Researchers at the University of Florida are part of a national effort to improve pollination in blueberries. Asst professor of entomology Dr. Rachel Mallinger says they hope to provide better pollination recommendations to growers.
Mallinger… “In general recommendations are lacking or they're very outdated. So growers don't have a good sense for how many hives they should bring in. Whether they should bring in both honey bees and other managed bees like bumble bees. They don't have a sense for what is the best placement strategy: how close to the bushes to place the hives or the colonies.”
Mallinger says part of the challenge in this work is how many variables go into pollination.
Mallinger… “The other main component is to look at how pollination varies across different blueberry cultivars. Both in terms of how the pollination needs or requirements can vary across cultivars, and also how different cultivars may be more or less attractive to bees. And so these cultivars in blueberry, they're not as well-known as apple cultivars. When you go to an apple store or you recognize red delicious, or honeycrisp. Blueberry, likewise has these different cultivars, but they're not as well-marketed. And these different cultivars sometimes have flowers of different colors, different shapes. And they may have different pollination needs. So we'll be looking at that as well.”
The more effective the pollination the more blueberries we can produce.