Birds and bees enhance quality of coffee beans

Birds and bees enhance quality of coffee beans

Study has shown that ecosystem services are more valuable together

2 minutes read

Birds and bees contribute to coffee farming by combating pests and pollinating. They naturally help coffee beans to grow larger and more abundant.

A report published at Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) addresses the matter. According to the study, the absence of those ‘helpers’ could cause farmers to experience some 25% yield decrease in their crops. Similarly, near US$1,066 per hectare of coffee could be lost. As seen in the same study, such ecosystem services provide numerous benefits to agriculture and human well-being.

Birds and bees bring benefits

Despite all advantages brought by the synergy in ecosystem services, most studies still underestimate its value. Seemingly, the article states that “most studies treat ecosystem services separately, and then add up their values.” By means of field experiments, at realistic scales, the study shows that pest control and pollination can interact positively, as in the case of birds and bees.

Bees for Brazilian coffee

Brazilian coffee growers have also been experiencing good results with bees. A good example is expressed in a report from Isto É Magazine, also quoted at Hub do Café. As mentioned in the article, a mobile app helps Brazilian producers to introduce more bees to their plantations. Thus, dozens, sometimes hundreds of hives are ordered from farmers through the app.

Arabica coffee trees can be self-pollinized, but the introduction of bees is proven to enhance productivity. Needles to say that gains in profitability are sensibly noticed.

Marisa Contreras, a Brazilian coffee farmer, experienced the work of bees for the first time on 2020. By that time, she placed the insects within part in a coffee plantation grown by her and her husband. Firstly, they could realize that productivity in the area where bees were present was 15% greater than in the self-pollinized area. Secondly, the quality of cupping was also better in the areas with the hives.

Bee responsible

In spite of the great value of ecosystem services, it is critically important to remark that such interventions must always be carried out by specialized professionals.

In the words of the biologist Reginaldo Gomes Ferreira, Supervisor of Cooxupé’s Evironmental Education Center, if any specimen is inserted in an ecosystem without proper studies, it might bring serious unbalance to local flora and fauna. “Choosing specimens that are natural to each ecosystem is vital, in order to maintain previously established biodiversity, and not to cause losses to natural ecosystems”, concludes Ferreira.