Bees, allies of agraz, chamba and cholupa fruits
Pollination carried out by these anthophile (flower loving) insects is very important to have greater amount and quality fruit.Bogotá D. C., 12 de julio de 2016 — Agencia de Noticias UN-
This was the conclusion of experts of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Bee Research Laboratory, who carried out a research project to assess the pollination processes provided by bees in three promising fruit crops in Colombia.
Agraz (blackberry), chamba (perfume guava) and cholupa (sweet calabash) are sold in local markets and despite their importance they are still relatively unknown.
According to UNal Department of Biology Professor Guiomar Nates-Parra, these crops are very important in specific areas and for nutrition of certain Colombian communities.
Rural communities gather wild agraz, not from planted crops but naturally collected. This fruit has good levels of antioxidants and its consumption is suggested to avoid cardiovascular diseases.
To study this fruit researchers visited the municipalities of Gachetá (Province of Cundinamarca), Ráquira and San Miguel de Sema (Province of Boyacá). They discovered that although agraz flowers are visited by different insects, bees are regular visitors, particularly bumblebees.
Although production of this fruit does not depend on these pollinators they do contribute to agraz production between 50 and 65%, which benefits the economy.
“Bumblebees help flowers release pollen; flowers with pollen on poricidal anthers as they need strong movements to release the pollen. Although agraz can produce fruit without the need of pollination, researchers discovered that the quality of the fruit is better if pollinated,” said Nates-Parra.
As the researchers had scarce information on these fruits they visited crops to speak to growers, analyze the floral biology and gather data on how the plant produces flowers and in what seasons, how reproduction process develops and how pollinating agents intervene for fruit forming.
Cholupa is another kind of passionfruit similar to granadilla, curuba and maracuyá. It has large leaves, approximately 8 cms in diameter, colorful flowers and fragrances which attract pollinators.
To study this plant they visited the municipality of Rivera, 20 minutes from Neiva, the capital of the Province of Huila. There they discovered that the main pollinators were bees, the larger ones are best as they can carry more amount of pollen.
The third fruit tree studied was guava chamba in the municipality of Miraflores (Province of Boyacá). Not all flowers produce fruits, some are lost naturally and others because of lack of pollination.
Researchers discovered that the best pollinators were honey bees (Apis mellifera) and several stingless bees from the Melipona genus, which by having shorter flower visits can visit greater amount of flowers per minute.
On the other hand, pollination provides economic benefits in the order of COL $833 (US $0.28) per kilo of chamba fruit and production depends 33% on bees.
“For a good crop of the above-mentioned three fruits, bees need to be present, as this contributes to the quantity and quality of the fruit,” she said.
As a result of the research project, funded by the Colombian Administrative Department for Science Technology and Innovation they published a book entitled, “Bee pollination for promising crops in Colombia” which was submitted to country folk and locals which were part of the process and helped socialize the results.(Por: Fin/VC/DMH/APBL