Natural pollinators, like bumblebees, are widely employed by growers to ensure efficient cross-pollination of crops such as protected tomatoes, strawberries, eggplants and blueberries, as well as a range of field-grown crops and seed crops.

Optimising pollination rates, pollinators are used to maximise crop yields and can also help improve fruit quality.

Challenges to overcome

In greenhouse crops, to avoid the need for highly labour-intensive manual pollination or the use of plant growth hormones, there is a need to introduce effective natural pollinators.

In certain field-grown crops, particularly when the flowering time is brief, there can be a short-term need for high numbers of pollinators.

Benefits of natural pollination

Harnessing nature’s own pollinators reduces labour costs and avoids the use of hormones in the crop. Quality bumblebee hives can be highly efficient and virtually maintenance free.

Compared to honey bees, bumblebee pollinators offer several distinct advantages. Bumblebees start flying earlier in the day as they do not require such high temperatures and, with hairier bodies, tend to collect more pollen. Employing buzz pollination, bumblebee chest muscles produce a certain frequency that facilitates anthers to release their pollen. Unlike honey bees, bumblebees have developed primitive means of communication, which means they do not swarm.

When do we use natural pollinators?

Depending on the particular crop being grown and its geographical location, natural pollinators are used when crop flowers are open, predominantly from February through to September.

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