Natural pollination using bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) is an effective way of increasing profits and reducing labor costs. Bumblebees can increase crop production through more efficient pollination. Many crops are well suited to natural pollination with bumblebees, including cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, vegetables, seed crops, strawberries, blueberries, cane berries, melons, and squash. The nectar produced by the flowering plants in the greenhouse is not always sufficient for the optimal development of a bumble bee population. For this reason sugar water is supplied. Depending on the circumstances, the hive may be supplied with additional insulation.
NATUPOL Class A hive is available for pollination in greenhouses from 10,000-15,000 square feet. On delivery, this hive contains 75+ workers bees. It has an expected life span of 12-14 weeks.
NATUPOL Class B hive is available for pollination in greenhouses from 5000-10,000 square feet. On delivery, this hive contains 75-100 workers bees. It has an expected life span of 8-10 weeks.
MINIPOL Class C hive is available for small greenhouses less than 5,000 square feet. A Class C hive colony consists of 45 to 60 worker bees. It has an expected life span of 4 - 5 weeks.
MACHOPOL hive consists of 100 bumblebee drones. They operate independant from a colony. Drones are useful for seed breeding, or where small numbers of plants are grown. They can be used in small greenhouses or to pollinate crops as small as 2 to 20 plants. Drones are only interested in nectar, so they will frequently visit male flowers. The only condition for success is the presence of flowers that produce nectar. Drones are very user-friendly – they do not sting
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.
Introduction schedule It is recommended 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.