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June 2 2013

Bumblebees take off with a special fungus weapon to save strawberries


Squadrons of bumblebees are being deployed in a novel attempt to prevent grey mould turning the summer's strawberries into fluffy mush.

The bees are routed via a one-way system in their hive through a tray of harmless fungus spores which, when delivered to flowers, ensure that the grey mould cannot take hold as the fruit grows. New flowers on a strawberry crop open every day, which means that spraying with pesticides only protects those that are open at the time. "But the bees visit the flowers at the perfect moment for that flower," said Harriet Roberts of Adas, an agricultural consultancy testing the use of bees as delivery systems in the UK.

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