In order to study the real-world effects of bees and birds on coffee production, the authors of the new study altered conditions at 30 coffee farms, according to a University of Vermont statement. Repelling birds and bees with a combination of nets and smaller lace bags, researchers created four different environments: keeping out just birds; keeping out just bees; keeping out both birds and bees; and an environment with both birds and bees, like that which appears naturally. Doing so, they were able to see the true impact of both creatures on coffee plants, finding that even though the arabica beans studied are self-pollinating, the plants were greatly aided by the presence of bees. Birds were found to help control natural coffee pests such as the coffee berry borer, a small insect Coffee Hunter describes as one of the “most harmful pests” on coffee farms.
As noted above, the presence of both birds and bees on coffee farms helped produce coffee fruit (and therefore beans) that was larger, healthier, and more uniform. “One important reason we measure these contributions is to help protect and conserve the many species that we depend on, and sometimes take for granted,” Natalia Aristizábal, a PhD candidate at the University of Vermont, said in the statement. “Birds, bees, and millions of other species support our lives and livelihoods, but face threats like habitat destruction and climate change.”
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