Around the world, it is becoming increasingly popular to plant orchards in towns and villages. However, maintaining orchards in heavily populated areas poses several challenges. In particular, there must be enough pollinating insects to ensure fruiting success.
A team that received initial support from the Living Earth Collaborative received a $633,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to assess pollination in orchards in the city of St. Louis. They will examine how factors such as human population density, socio-economic status, soil type and surrounding vegetation affect insect numbers and fruit yield.
The project team then plans to focus on nine orchards in St. Louis to perform detailed experiments to test the effects of increasing pollinator numbers directly, by adding native bee colonies, or indirectly, by adding blackberry stalks and commercial beehives that they can use as nesting sites.
This work represents a collaboration between four local universities, the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Saint Louis Zoo, and local nonprofit Gateway Greening.
Read more and watch the video at theSTL.com.