Coffee

Kenya’s arabica coffee is well known and sought after around the world. Coffee sales are a major contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product and the industry employs millions of Kenyans.

Coffee bushes flower synchronously at different times of the year, usually at the beginning of the rains. Coffee varieties can be self-pollinated, but the presence of pollinators improves the quality and size of the coffee beans. Some varieties of coffee in East Africa, such as robusta coffee, appear to be completely dependent on pollinators.

The main pollinators of coffee flowers are different kinds of bees. Honeybee hives can be placed amongst coffee bushes to improve coffee yields. Other pollinators of coffee include many different kinds of wasps, large flies, butterflies, moths, and even sunbirds.

To support wild bee pollinators of coffee, it is important to provide other sources of nectar. These can include areas of wildflowers, or indigenous shade trees along the edges of coffee plantations.

Protecting pollinators of coffee from pesticides is important, and should be managed carefully. Spraying when coffee is in flower could negatively impact the pollinators, and therefore coffee yields.

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Ripening coffee berries by D. J. Martins
Ripening coffee berries by D. J. Martins
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Carpenter bees are one of the many wild bee species that contribute to the pollination of coffee. Photo by by D. J. Martins
Carpenter bees are one of the many wild bee species that contribute to the pollination of coffee. Photo by by...

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