Honey Bee vs Bumble Bee Pollination
Yesterday, we reported on the work being done at the University of Florida and elsewhere to improve blueberry pollination. The berries, of course, rely on bees and other pollinators to produce fruit, and Dr. Rachel Mallinger says this has become a real expense for growers.
Mallinger…. “Some growers do manage their own hives, but the vast majority of them rent. And they pay a price, you know, usually anywhere between $50 and $70 for a hive. And they bring in a number of hives depending on how big their farm is. So it can be a pretty significant cost. Those obviously are rented, then they go back to the beekeeper at the end of that season.”
Mallinger there is referencing honeybees, but growers also use bumble bees as pollinators. These bees are purchased, because the colony does not live on beyond the pollination season.
Mallinger… “And in that case, they purchase them from a company. There's one main company that sells them. And they purchase them, they get shipped straight to the farm. They're there for the pollination period. They typically only lasts about eight weeks before they die. So bumble bee colonies don't live for multiple years like honey bee colonies do. Growers have to purchase new bumble bee colonies every year.”
Learn more about pollinator ecology and conservation on her website: www.RachelMallinger.com.