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The Miracle of Bees - Part 1


I’m watching the bees hover around the early fall garden. As a gardener, I know the amazing role bees play in pollination. I simply never made the link to bees as coffee pollinators. As with all food plants, bees are a critical part of the coffee ecosystem and are known as “the heavy lifters” of pollination.


Bee pollination can result in a 10-20% improvement on coffee quality and yield, and encourages the growth of double coffee beans, instead of single bean called “peaberries.” In countries like Mexico and Guatemala, where shade grown coffee and diverse, rustic farms adjacent to forests are common, bees are credited with a 20% higher fruit set. Coffee plants don’t provide many nesting sites or food for bees, but bee diversity increases dramatically when there’s a robust presence of trees inside or around a coffee farm. It underscores once again the superiority of shade grown coffee — the kind we use in Java Up snacks.

Where I live, in western Massachusetts, people are passionate about pollinators. In 2016, Great Barrington, MA became the first municipality in New England to pass a resolution aimed at protecting pollinators. Other towns concerned about bees, butterflies, bats and other pollinators, followed suit. Now Great Barrington has created a Pollinator Action Plan, to protect species whose movement among vegetation is responsible for an astounding one third of the food we eat. Read more about it here in my friend Andrew’s article, in last week’s Berkshire Edge.

The loss of bee habitats, the impact of pesticides and the effects of climate change are a worry. Our local folks are dedicated to producing high quality local honey, growing organic fruits and vegetables, and protecting grazing land. And just like our coffee growers around the world, our local farmers are guardians of the fragile relationship of bees, plants and climate, and the miracle of pollination.

Next time you reach for a JavaUp bar, or sip your morning brew, give the bees the thanks they deserve. In a world without bees, we probably wouldn’t survive. And our diets would be boring and less nutritious.

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