UK pollination goes native


What’s the buzz?

Bumblebees are important pollinators of wild plants and many cultivated crops. By pollinating our fruits and vegetables they not only help deliver your ‘five-a-day’, but they are also vital to overall food security.

Bumblebees are especially effective pollinators. They produce their own heat, which in combination with their furry coats enables them to fly early in the season when it is still far too cold for honey bees and other insects. They also differ from honey bees in that they ‘buzz’ or shake the flower to collect pollen, which makes them especially effective in assuring pollination.



Foreign cousin

To guarantee high yields and high quality crops commercially reared bumblebees are now an integral part of modern agriculture. Currently, available bumblebee hives are of a European Bombus terrestris subspecies, a mainland ‘cousin’ of the British subspecies Bombus terrestris audax.

As the commercially sold bumblebees are not native to the UK their use has been restricted to glasshouse cultures and tunnels due to concerns they may negatively impact native bumblebee populations when used in the open field.

Bumblebees have been an important driver of a more sustainable agriculture. In crops like glasshouse tomatoes they have replaced the use of physical pollination or chemicals previously widely used to induce fruit-set.

In field crops, like strawberries, raspberries and currants, UK growers have until now been unable to share in the many benefits these pollinators offer. This puts them at a major disadvantage relative to their foreign counterparts.

Coming to a farm near you...

As of this season this problem has been solved. Belgium company Biobest has been successful in rearing the native British bumblebees (Bombus terrestris audax). The native bumblebee will be available through Biobest’s UK distributor Agralan.

The use of native bumblebees is a highly attractive option to UK growers as it allows them to expand the use of these top pollinators to crops grown in the open field. So when you are enjoying your British berries this summer, chances are that they might just be that little bit more British.

For more information, please contact:

Prof. Felix Wäckers
Director R&D Biobest N.V. /
Lancaster University
T° 015245 10547

Email: go.native@biobest.be 

Biobest UK distributor:
Alan Frost, Managing Director
Mike Abel, Sales Manager
T° 01285 860015
Mobile Mike Abel : 07973 216340
Email: sales@agralan.co.uk


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