“T’is hard to bate the bee,” was a favourite cant of The Dealer’s mother; and it seems that the lab boffins in University College Dublin (UCD) have come to agree with her.

The humble bee is helping to put €800,000 into the pockets of commercial apple growers each year, Belfield researchers have estimated.

A novel UCD study found that insect pollinators such as honeybees, bumblebees, wasps and hoverflies contributed to 93% of the market value of domestic dessert apples and 46% of the market value for those used in cider production.

“We found that yield of desert apples was limited by the amount of pollination they received.

“So more pollination by insect pollinators could increase harvests of this crop,” Dr Dara Anne Stanley explained.

The UCD scientist said the study stressed the importance of the wild insects, particularly bees, to pollination and highlighted the benefits for farmers of improving biodiversity.

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but bees look after the bank manager.