The Buzz about Bumblebees

The worldwide decline in honeybee populations continues. While scientists work to understand the causes and policymakers to take protective measures, farmers are concerned about pollination of their crops. Traditionally, fruit growers have relied on honeybees for pollination. But as availability declines due to bee health issues, fewer bee-keepers, and increasing demand for honeybees from other crops such as oil seed rape, farmers can be faced with a serious pollination bottleneck.

Bumblebees can provide a much-needed alternative for pollination of fruit crops. Biobest has pioneered commercial bumblebee pollination since 1987, helping farmers deliver high-quality fruit and produce. For protected crops, bumblebees are often the only workable alternative, but our trusted pollinators are more than ready to also help with today’s challenges in open-field pollination.

Even when a bumblebee hive has many times fewer workers than a honeybee hive, the pollination efficacy of bumblebees is extremely high. Compared to honeybees, they work harder and longer and fly earlier in the season, even in cold and dark conditions. Their unique “buzz pollination” releases more pollen, which then clings to their larger bodies – resulting in particularly effective pollination. Whereas a honeybee requires six visits to successfully pollinate a bumblebee gets the job done the first time.

And Biobest has been working hard to develop the technology to maximise these natural advantages. Our weatherproof nest boxes (Multihives®) hold up to three colonies, protecting our bumblebees from rain and providing insulation. Dedicated Biobest advisors work with growers to personalise the system to their own requirements. And in crop varieties that are difficult to pollinate, pollination efficacy can be boosted by placing commercially available pollen in our innovative new “Flying Doctors®” dispenser system. Add it all up and it’s easy to see why our bees are creating a buzz as a vital tool for growers looking to safeguard their crop.

Biobest continues to expand as farmers around the world discover how our bumblebees can work for them. Not even the bad weather conditions we’ve experienced lately can put a damper on crop pollination – thanks to the not-so-humble bumblebee.

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