In recent years, blueberries have become increasingly popular because of their perceived health benefits. They're now planted all over the world, including areas where their natural pollinators don't occur – like South Africa, where the blueberry exports to the world have grown from 1,792 tons in 2014 to 20,013 tons in 2021.
In South Africa there aren't any native pollinators for the fruit in the country, and the local honey bees do not seem to be an efficient substitute. Farmers are considering importing large bees, like bumble bees, that aren't native to the country. However, that could devastate local environments. Bumble bees are strong competitors and often outcompete native pollinators for resources, as has been seen in Argentina .
In two related studies, the honey bee pollination ability was tested on some of the most common blueberry varieties planted in South Africa. Honey bees were found to be reliable pollinators of blueberries, increasing fruit number, fruit diameter and mass and decreasing fruits' developmental time. Importing bigger bees like bumble bees is simply not necessary.