Pollination using Bumblebees - Greater yields, better fruit quality and better returns

In the past, naturally occurring pollinators were abundant. However over time with the extensive use of broad-spectrum insecticides by growers, along with the wide decrease in the wild honeybee population, the situation has changed. Growers are now seeing the many benefits of using bumblebees, as well as using bumblebees in conjunction with other pollinators.

Many growers are finding a diminished size in the fruit they grow and the number of fruit per plant is reduced. In most cases this can be directly attributed to the lack of proper pollination.

Proper pollination is essential for optimal fruit set and production.

Bumblebees are exceptionally effective pollinators of crops both in greenhouses, under covered crops and in open-air situations.

In recent years there is evidence and research to show that the bumblebee is very effective in a range of outdoor crops, particularly kiwifruit, blueberries, avocado and other stone fruits

Bumblebees give the grower a major advantage!

  • Each bumblebee transfers more pollen to the stigma compared with other pollinators. Creating better fruit formation and higher percentage of Class 1 fruit at harvest time.
  • A bumble bee visits more flowers per hour than other pollinators.
  • They are able to work in lower-temperatures and low light conditions. They can fly at temperatures as low as 8 degrees, in light rain, windy conditions and heavy cloud cover.
  • Bumblebees work reliably in covered crops, under netting and in plastic tunnels, situations in which other pollinators sometimes fail.
  • As in the wild bumblebees work very well alongside honeybees.
  • Bumblebees are a more viable option to honeybees, which have become more expensive since the Varroa virus has increased costs.
  • The use of bumblebees means significant labour savings compared with artificial pollination techniques. As the number of misshapen fruits then often declines, this also saves you time and labour in sorting the harvested product.
  • Bumblebees will only travel in a 100-200 meter radius, so they will remain within the crop requiring pollination.
  • With the aid of our unique Beehome system, you can easily move the bumblebee colony to a different crop flowering after the crop that blooms first. This allows you to achieve even greater economic returns.
  • You can collect the bumblebees together and shut them in – even in the middle of the day – and move the hive temporarily or permanently elsewhere, for example when crop protection measures requires this, of if you want to avoid the formation of too much fruit. You are in charge!
  • Bumblebees are virtually never aggressive, meaning greater safety for you and your employees.

Why Bumblebees?

In comparison with other pollinating insects like honeybees, bumblebees are very effective pollinators. They are fast workers, visiting twice as many flowers per minute than honeybees. Because of their size then can carry much heavier loads, which allows them to be out foraging for longer periods of time. Their larger size also allows them to have better contact with the stamens and pistils than smaller insects.

Bumblebees make relatively few demands on the circumstances under which they work. They feel more at ease in greenhouse/tunnels than honeybees for instance, particularly in restricted areas. Bumblebees will still work in low temperatures and low light levels, even wind and drizzle will not deter them.

Bumblebees lack the sophisticated communication system that honeybees have, this is an advantage as they will be less likely to leave your crop for more attractive flowers. Should an individual bumblebee find an attractive food source elsewhere, it cannot inform its companions.

Bumble Bee Box
Buzz Pollination image

Buzz Pollination

Bumblebees pollinate flowers through a method called ‘buzz pollination’. This is when the bumblebee grabs onto the flowers and anthers to vibrate and dislodge the pollen, This allows a bumblebee to pollinate a flower in a single visit, whereas the honeybee may need to visit the flower 7-10 times before it is fully pollinated.