May. 2, 2016
It’s hard to imagine a modern day tomato greenhouse without bumblebees. Now the use of bumblebees is rapidly gaining ground in soft fruit crops. Growers like Aman Gill found out that using bumblebees guarantees higher yields of top quality fruits. Especially when weather conditions during flowering are challenging, bumblebees are a grower’s best insurance against poor fruit set.
Biobest North-America has developed the 4-Pak, a bumblebee unit for field pollination. The 4-Pak contains four individual bumblebee hives. The 4-Pak with Bombus impatiens is suitable for field use in all of the US and Canada, East of the Rocky Mountains. For growers out West, Biobest is currently the only company providing a “Western Species” bumblebee (Bombus huntii) for use in outdoor crops on the West coast of Canada. The product is not yet available in the Western USA.
Growers in the East have been using bumblebees for many years and are convinced of the benefits. Aman Gill (Pashaura Ent. Ltd), a grower in British Columbia used the huntii 4-Pak during 2015 and says “I harvested a phenomenal blueberry crop this past growing season! With Biobest’s bumblebees, I saw yields in our high value blueberry varieties increase substantially. With honeybees, these high value varieties did not show much response in previous years. We decided to give bumblebees a shot going with Biobest as our supplier. We couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome! Amanda Brown from Biobest was always there for professional advice.”
Amanda Brown, Biobest Technical Specialist for the West coast, points out that bumblebees are tireless pollen collectors working longer hours than honeybees especially under difficult weather conditions. This makes them highly effective at pollinating outdoor crops. “Because bumblebee communication systems aren’t as sophisticated as those of honeybees, they don’t fly as far and are more likely to stay in your crop rather than going looking for attractive flowers in your neighbor’s field. In our cranberry field trials 80% of the pollen collected by the bumblebees was actually cranberry pollen.”