It has been known for a long time, that insect pollination increases the harvest quantity of many crops. A new EU study looked into the quality & market value of pollination. On an experimental field in Germany, the scientists planted commercially available strawberry varieties and surrounded them with honeybees and wild bees. One set of the plants was covered with gauze bags to allow wind pollination and another set remained uncovered for insect and wind pollination.
Results showed that bee pollination improved the shape and weight of strawberries, raising their commercial value by 38.6%. In addition, bee-pollinated berries turned out to be firmer, resulting in a significantly longer shelf life. All in all, bee pollination contributed 1.05 bn. € out of the total value of 2.12 bn. € of strawberries sold in Europe in 2009.
The researchers were also able to show that these effects on quality are likely to be true for a number of other fruits and vegetables.