By Emily Conover of the Journal Sentinel
Cranberries are blooming this month in Wisconsin — each delicate blossom awaiting a visit from a bee to pollinate it before the plants can produce their famously tart, red berries.
To ensure the flowers are pollinated, cranberry farmers need bees — lots of bees. Farmers typically hire beekeepers to bring hives of honeybees to pollinate the flowers. But what if there were a better way?
That’s what scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison want to answer. They plan to test whether planting wildflowers around crop fields can improve farmers’ fruit yield by attracting more bees — particularly wild, native bees — to the fields.
“Honeybees are one species. There are thousands of native bees that are out in the environment, doing what they do,” said Claudio Gratton, professor of entomology at UW-Madison and leader of the group carrying out the research. [For more, click here].