PLANT-B’s innovative solutions:

Although most citrus cultivars are self-pollinating, honey bee hives are distributed throughout citrus orchards in most Mediterranean countries, except in Spain, where pollination is not desirable as it leads to the appearance of more seeds in the fruit. Beekeepers largely depend on the ability of honeybees to collect pollen and nectar from citrus blooms to produce honey, creating tensions between the main two actors of this agricultural system. Improper use of pesticides by citrus farmers to keep honey bees at bay either discourages the introduction of beehives in the vicinity of citrus groves, or greatly affects the quality of the honey produced.

PLANT-B scientists are developing solutions to ensure that this two majorly important crops, citrus and honey, can operate in a mixed-farming system that’s more sustainable, and mutually beneficial. To achieve this goal, PLANT-B is working on 5 main axes:

  • Developing and testing of biological control tools and Integrated Pest Management methods to reduce pesticide inputs in the fruit crop and honey.

  • Developing and optimizing a mixed-farming system in the Mediterranean region to provide a mutual benefit to the crops and honey in terms of quantity and quality, through improved pollination and biological control services.

  • Determination of quality, safety specifications and traceability of honey production at the proposed multi-purpose cropping-beekeeping system

  • Assessment of the environmental and socio-economic sustainability of the mixed cropping-beekeeping system

  • Dissemination of the new knowledge to the agricultural main actors and to the public, and promotion of the new honey