Poor natural pollination Biobest Bumblebees

2012 will go down as one of the worst springs on record. The miserable weather has fruit growers across Europe facing decimated crop yields. This year, the dismal weather kept pollinators from flying during key periods of pollination. Frost damage was also an issue, and this unfortunate combination has European producers expecting a mere tenth of their normal crop.

To make things worse, the frost and poor pollination mean the remaining fruits are of lower quality. Fruit growers are accustomed to occasional poor pollination, but combine recent weather patterns with declining bee populations and you’ve got a serious problem. This increasing threat of pollinator problems to fruit production has been recognised for some time.

Fruit producers have traditionally relied on honeybees, but availability of honeybee hives has declined as a result of bee health issues, fewer bee-keepers, and competition from other insect-pollinated crops such as oil seed rape.

Fortunately Biobest has the solution. For 25 years, Biobest has pioneered commercial bumblebee pollination - and now more than ever, Biobest bees can make the difference. Unlike honeybees, bumblebees will brave wind and cold, flying earlier in the season and even on the darkest days. They work harder and faster than honeybees, and being native, are uniquely adapted to local conditions. This
makes them a vital tool for growers looking to safeguard their crop. Larger body size means pollen clings more easily, while natural behaviour such as buzz pollination (flower shaking) enhances pollination further.

In order to allow bumblebees to be used in outdoor crops, Biobest has developed special weatherproof nest boxes (multihives), which house up to three bumblebee colonies, protecting them from rain and providing insulation. Biobest also offers dedicated international advisers to train growers and personalise the system.
Farmers using our bumblebees have managed to obtain good fruit-set even under the extremely adverse weather conditions experienced this year. Regrettably, these “exceptional” weather conditions are likely to become less exceptional
as the climate becomes more unpredictable. Using bumblebees for pollination is therefore an effective way for growers to ensure crop yield - even in the worst of springs.

Weathering the Storms
European producers know what a difference Biobest can make. And Biobest is still finding ways to innovate. Two years ago, Biobest started producing the native British bumblebee, Bombus terrestris audax, for outdoor use.

Previously, UK growers were at a disadvantage, as commercially sold bumblebees were a continental species restricted to use in glasshouse cultures and high tunnels. Biobest spotted an opportunity and now British farmers can capitalise on it. And just recently when Mediterranean growers complained that midday heat was making
their bees sleepy, Biobest responded with a new hive ventilation system designed to keep bees active. The feature is now standard on our hives – proving we’re wide awake when it comes to our customers’ concerns.


For more information:
 bert.synaeve@biobest.be

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