Bumblebees- Natural Pollination
The problem is the amount of focused manpower needed to properly carry out the pollination process. That’s where commercially produced bees come in: commercial bumblebee hives, for example, are designed exclusively for crop pollination. Not just for tomatoes, but other crops as well: peppers; cukes; squash; cane-, straw-, blue- and cranberries; and many other crops in need of primary or supplemental pollinators.
Bumblebees for Pollination
Natupol Excel A hive treats 1,000-15,000 square feet for approximately 9-12 weeks with 75+ worker bees and queen.
This hive is best for greenhouses that have recently planted and need a consistent amount of pollination over the course of the growth cycle.
The effectiveness does takes longer to reach it's maximum level than the fast startup, but the hive overall performance is more even throughout the long time span.
This makes the long term A Excell hive the ideal type to choose for greenhouses that operate consistently.
Natupol Excel B Fast startup hive: This hive treats 1,000-15,000 square feet for approximately 7 to 8 weeks with 100+worker bees and a queen.
This is a fast start up hive for use in greenhouses that need a heavy amount of pollination very quickly. Ideal for a greenhouse that is in or close to full bloom and needs lot of pollination fast.
Bumblebees used for pollination of various crops. Greenhouse tomato plants (as just one example), as do their outdoor brethren, require pollination to fruit. Outdoors this is done by bees, wasps, wind and other natural sources. In the greenhouse, however, people and sometimes their people-made devices must be the bees and the wind. On tomato plants, growers manually, or with a small “buzz” device, shake or vibrate the flower laden trusses. The problem is the amount of focused manpower needed to properly carry out the pollination process. That’s where commercially produced bees come in: commercial bumblebee hives, for example, are designed exclusively for crop pollination. Not just for tomatoes, but other crops as well: peppers; cukes; squash; cane-, straw-, blue- and cranberries; and many other crops in need of primary or supplemental pollinators. Growers should use bumblebees shortly after the first flowers appear. Normal greenhouse conditions (without the normal greenhouse sprays) can support the hive, though excessively high temperatures may hamper activity. Cool temperatures, on the other hand, may slow activity, but don’t completely halt it. That’s the nice thing about bumblebees versus honeybees, they can fly in cool weather, down to 41°F, even in the rain and on windy or cloudy days, visiting flowers, bruising them (a scouting sign of activity), doing their thing. Honeybees won’t even come out of their hive in those conditions, and temperatures have to be at least 50°F. Consequently, Bombus spp. are a viable option for outdoor use in addition to greenhouse applications. They’re bigger, faster, better and more versatile. Please bear in mind, though, not the bees, but the actual hives, must be sheltered from the elements if used outdoors. A half-sheet of plywood will do. And indoors, the hives must be placed above the ground, in a vibration-free (from fans, etc.) place where they will be sheltered from irrigation water, traffic, etc., yet open from all frontal angles of approach. Placed on 2 cinder blocks on end, perhaps, and in such a way that ants cannot access it (by applying a sticky trap compound to the blocks). By the way, don’t open the little doors until the bees inside settle down. They can be agitated from all the handling and might respond to your handling aggressively, so wait at least one hour. In fact, anytime while using bees, it should be noted that they can sting. If you’re hypersensitive to stings, do not go anywhere near these hives. It is, in fact, best to not even enter a greenhouse or field while the bees are being used. The non-allergic individual should go about his or her business as usual, but occasional stings can occur. Give the bee hive a wide berth when possible. Additionally, try not to make wild movements around the hive, as this may evoke aggression. Bright colored clothing may spark curiosity from the bees, but should not provoke them as long as you keep your composure. In a nutshell, bumblebees should be given due respect. They are not domesticated or trained, just laboratory reared. The hive is constructed of cardboard and plastic and comes with its own food source. The hive is completely self-contained.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do Bumblebees Compare to Honeybees?”
|% Pollen Foragers||5-15%||60-90%||Honeybees and bumblebees are distinctly different in their food requirements. Bumblebees are focused on pollen whereas honeybees are nectar focused as well. Nectar foragers in the colony do pollinate but to a much lesser extent since it is just a side-effect of their main function; nectar collecting.|
|No. Of Pollen Foragers/Colony||1000-3500||150-225||One can expect the average honeybee hive to contain 25,000 bees, and 5% to 15%, or 1,000 to 3,500 honeybees are pollen foraging bees. A bumblebee hive with 250 bees has 150 to 225 pollen foraging bees.|
|Pollen Deposition||1||4x||Since bumblebees carry more pollen, have larger bodies and are better able to get into the flower, they deposit on average about 4 times the amount of pollen per flower as compared to a honeybee. Larger deposits of pollen promote pollination as well as the formation of more uniform and larger fruits and vegetables.|
|Working Speed||1||2x||Bumblebees on average visit twice as many flowers per minute as compared to honeybees.|
|No. of Pollen Foragers Correct for Efficiency||1000-3500||1200-1800||Taking working speed, and pollen deposition into consideration, a bumblebee will do, at a minimum, 8 times as much as a honeybee;|
|Working hours||1||2x||The regulation of their body temperature allows bumblebees to be active in a wider range of conditions. Bumblebees will forage for up to two times as long as a honeybee.|
You will find that bumblebees are a cut above other insects, such as honeybees, when complete pollination is your goal. They work faster, visiting many more flowers per minute. Their large size lets them carry huge pollen loads, allowing longer foraging trips, and achieving better contact with flowers. Bumblebees will also work under conditions that other pollinators find intolerable. First of all, they can pollinate in a greenhouse. More importantly, bumblebees can work in temperatures below 50 degrees F, the perfect solution for pollinating your early spring blooms. Honeybees have not proved to be effective in either of these environments. Not even strong wind or moderate rainfall will prevent the bumblebees in your GARDEN from going about their pollination duties.
A single hive will pollinate any garden. With a maintenance-free Bumblebee hive you don't have to be a beekeeper to have the benefits of proper pollination. We will deliver the hive to your door via UPS. All you have to do is remove the hive from the shipping box, place it near your garden on a cinderblock or bricks, open the hive entrance, and walk away. The bumblebees will do the rest. Sheltering the hive from the elements (sun and rain) can further enhance your GARDENs performance.
The handling that occurs during shipping can be a bit upsetting to the bumblebees in a newly delivered hive, leaving them agitated and very eager to leave their home. To ensure that your pollinators have had sufficient time to calm down after transport, we cover the hive opening with a fiber mesh that the bumblebees must chew through before they can leave the enclosure. They will usually gnaw through about an hour after the hive gate is opened. By this time, they have calmed down and are ready to peacefully adjust to their new surroundings.
As with most other species of bees, bumblebees can sting, though they rarely do. In hydroponic greenhouses all over the world, the bumblebees work side by side with greenhouse workers…INDOORS!! Because bumblebees are very docile in comparison to other bees, the incidence of people being stung is quite rare. In an outdoor garden, your contact with an upset bumblebee would be an extremely uncommon occurrence. In fact, we think spending time in your garden watching friendly bumblebees go speedily about their work is a fascinating experience. Every time you see a flower being visited by one of your bumblebees, you'll know that in a few short weeks you will have a beautifully developed fruit in its place, waiting to be enjoyed by family and friends.
It is recomended that you time the introduction of the first hive with the expected opening of the first blossoms in the crop. Re-introduce new hives as the colony declines (expected life span).
Place the hive 0.5 to 1 meter above the ground, in a place that is protected against sun and condensation/rainwater. During the winter period, placement in the sun may be desirable. Do not place the hive among foliage!
After placement of the hive, let the bumblebees settle down for a while (½ - 1 hour) before opening the flight hole.
If the crop is located in greenhouses or tunnels, open the flight hole of the hive when the ventilation windows are closed (at the end of the afternoon). This will prevent the bumblebees from going outside the greenhouse during their orientation flights and not returning to the hive. Following their initial orientation flights the bumblebees will immediately start pollinating the crop. In general, bumble bees are most active in the morning and in the afternoon. Their activity also depends on the flowering pattern of the crop. Bumble bees are active at temperatures between 50 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. They function best at temperatures between 59 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combining the use of bumblebees with natural enemies does not present any problems. Agricultural chemicals may have direct or indirect effects on the bumble bees. Direct effects occur when worker bees and larvae die as a result of contact with or digestion of a chemical product, and indirect effects occur when the smell of the treated flower puts off the bumble bees, causing visits to stop.
Systemic pesticides (pesticides that are absorbed through the roots) often have a long-lasting residual effect. If a flower produces nectar in addition to pollen (e.g. sweet pepper), the damage to the bumble bee population may be much more serious than in a crop that only produces pollen (e.g. tomato).
In all cases the BEEHOME option of the hive must be activated before the crop is treated. This option ensures that bumble bees can enter, but not leave the hive. After about an hour the hive can be closed completely, so that it can either be covered or removed from the greenhouse. If the hive is temporarily removed from the greenhouse, it should be stored at 64 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.