Pollination is at the heart of fruit cropping and the kiwifruit industry is increasingly looking to the super-pollinator – the bumblebee.
Introduced to New Zealand at the turn of the 19th century to boost growth of red clover, the bumblebee is today recognised as one of the most prolific pollinators. This is by virtue of their buzz pollination, which is the vibration created by powerful flight muscles that shakes and releases a more consistent contact for pollination.
Biobees Limited is the largest and only specialised bumblebee supplier in New Zealand, selling easily managed hives for the pollination of commercially grown crops.
Dennis Park, Biobees Pollination Technician Representative says bumblebees are “super pollinators”, with a single bumblebee capable of visiting 245 female kiwifruit flowers per hour.
“The Kiwifruit Journal extended this by saying that a single bumble is capable of visiting up to 2000 flowers over an eight-hour period. Plant and Food Research estimates that one bumblebee is worth 50 honeybees in a kiwifruit crop.
“Pollination, however is becoming more challenging as growing trends of covered crop conditions are increasing. Bumblebees, unlike honeybees, are happy to work under these conditions sustaining their hive’s integrity and producing gold-standard pollination. Bumblebees are more reliable in harsher, colder conditions as they will fly at temperature around 5degC whilst still demonstrating effective pollination rates.”
Biobees has a range of hives suited to the specific needs of kiwifruit orchards. For more information check out www.biobees.co.nz.