Bees are off to boot camp at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, where they undergo beehaviour training in strawberry pollination.
Strawberries require several visits from bees for the flowers to be successfully pollinated. With fears growing about bee populations falling and Colony Collapse Disorder, training bees to go to specific plants will push pollination rates and fruit production.
The bees are trained by associating a food source with the scent of strawberry flowers. The flower scent is captured using a simple pump and plastic bag and then a spritz of it sprayed out each time the bees are rewarded with some sugary food.
This produces targeted foraging ‘beehaviour’ so that commercial or even home-grown strawberry crops will be favoured by the bees.