An interesting practice commonly seen in the greenhouse industry is the introduction of bumblebees into the pollination process as chief pollinators. Hundreds of hives are placed around the greenhouse, which are home to thousands of bumblebees! Their hives are placed in locations around the greenhouse where the bumblebees can work on the plants with a clear vision of where their hive is. That means once the hive is placed in a location, the bumblebee is aware of its surroundings and will not wander into an unknown area.
A fun-fact about bumblebees is that they tend to stay close to home, and they never enter another hive. In some instances, bumblebees can even identify their hive with an image or shape unique to their hive.
Bumblebees are beloved in greenhouses because of all the special qualities and benefits that they bring.
1. WHY BUMBLEBEES?
There are many different types of insects that could be used for pollination in greenhouses, such as bees, butterflies and moths. So why is it that bumblebees tend to be the insect of choice? Well, bees tend to get the job done the fastest. In fact, bumblebees are known to work twice as fast as their honey bee counterpart.
2. HOW DO THEY POLLINATE
Pollination is the transfer of pollen grains from one flower to another. Bumblebees and other insects are able to do this without thinking by simply flying from plant to plant. The pollen sticks to their legs and is transferred to the next flower so that the crop can reproduce and grow flavorful fruit.
3. WHERE ARE THEY USED
Bumblebee hives can be found placed around the crops that without pollination, would be unable to produce fruit. One common crop that bumblebees can often be found working in is tomatoes, which come in thousands of varieties. If you weren’t already aware, tomatoes are in fact technically a fruit!
4. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
The key benefit of utilizing insects like bumbebees in greenhouses is a reduction in overall labor costs. Greenhouse workers no longer need to manually pollinate the crops as the bumblebees will naturally do it for them. Ultimately, this results in lower prices to the consumer.