Colombian coffee farms are home to more than 250 species of insects, including 88 species of native bees, according to joint research from the National Coffee Research Centre (Cenicafé) and German pharmaceutical and life science company Bayer.
The 250-plus insect species – including beetles, flies, bedbugs, butterflies, moths, ants, and wasps, as well as bees – visit coffee flowers across Colombia throughout the day at different times.
These floral visiting insects account for 16 per cent of all Colombian coffee fruit set. Before the study, it was believed that insects were responsible for less than 10 per cent of coffee fruit set.
The study was led by Zulma N Gil and Pablo Benavides, researchers from the Entomology Discipline. The 88 species of native bees discovered account for 16 per cent of the total 550 native bee species that exist in Colombia.
“The bee group was the most abundant and diverse; 88 native species were recorded, which are natural inhabitants of the Colombian coffee ecosystems and are distributed from the north to the south of the country,” the study says.
These insects aid with pollination, or the natural process of pollen transfer between plants that produces new seeds and fruits.
Pollination also has the ability to influence the productivity of crops with 75 per cent of crops and 80 per cent of flowering plants dependent on pollination to reproduce.
The research further found that this diversity of insects was due to an integrated weed and pest management system that avoided indiscriminate application of chemicals.
In doing this, they found that there was greater preservation of pollinators of the coffee system and a greater floral diversity due to these different visiting insects.
The findings from this study reflect how technical management of coffee plantations, taking into account weather and cultivation conditions, can help protect biodiversity in coffee regions.
Cenicafé is the scientific arm of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, established in 1938 to study issues related to coffee production from quality control to pest and diseases to natural resource conservation.
For more information on Cenicafé please click here.