Bumblebees in High Tunnels 2012


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by Jon Wolf. Presented at the 2012 MN Statewide High Tunnel Conference

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Bumblebees in High Tunnels 2012

  1. 1. Enhancing Production & Quality withBumblebees in High Tunnels
  2. 2. The Inevitable Comparison
  3. 3. Let’s Compare Two Other Animals Mammals Nurse their young Live in family groups Four legs Eat vegetation Both like peanuts
  4. 4. PRACTICAL COMPARISONBumblebee HoneybeeForage heaviest in Forage heaviestmorning and evening during mid-dayAlmost always collect Almost always collectPollen and Nectar only NectarSonicate Do Not SonicateForage in Wind and Warm SunnyRain, under high Weather, do not worktunnels and well under plasticgreenhouses Attracted to flowersAttracted to most with high nectarflowers yields
  5. 5. Navigating under plasticBumblebees and Honeybees both see in the ultraviolet spectrum. The reason that bumblebees can foragesuccessfully under plastic that refracts UV light, is that they use landmarks for navigation.
  6. 6. Sonication (Buzz Pollination)• Bumblebees land on the flower, pulling it down until the anther is vertical (getting gravity’s help) then they vibrate their wing muscles. The vibration causes the flower to resonate, and grains of pollen are shaken loose. This drops onto the bee’s body and is available for cross pollination when she visits a flower on another plant.• On a hermaphrodite flower much of it will bounce right back up to the sticky stigma.• The development of the fleshy part of the fruit is stimulated by the fertilization of the seeds. So if bees are not present and only a few grains of pollen are delivered, fruit may form, but will not size up.• When enough grains of pollen are delivered to fertilize most of the seeds, the fruit will develop to be all that it can be.
  7. 7. Bumblebee Lifecycle
  8. 8. Bumblebee Hive Lifecycle
  9. 9. Why do we need bumblebees in a high tunnel?  Proper pollination  Proper fruit set  Proper fruit development  Higher yields  MORE PROFIT
  10. 10. What are the symptoms of improperpollination in your High Tunnel?
  11. 11. Strawberry
  12. 12. Strawberry
  13. 13. Strawberry
  14. 14. Tomato
  15. 15. Tomato
  16. 16. Tomato
  17. 17. Pepper
  18. 18. Cucumber
  19. 19. Cucumber
  20. 20. Cucumber
  21. 21. Zucchini
  22. 22. Zucchini
  23. 23. How Do We Use Bumblebees in HighTunnels?
  24. 24. How Many Hive do I use in my High TunnelsRecommended rateof input is one “ClassC” bumblebee hiveper 5000 square feetor lessEach “Class C” hiveshould last betweenfour to six weeksFor crops blooming more than five weeks it isrecommended to order a second hive to arriveafter the fourth week
  25. 25. Best Practice for Placement of Hives in High TunnelsPlace the hive in the middleof the tunnelPlace the hive where it willbe visible in spite of highcrop leaf densitiesThe entrance to the hivemust be clearly visible forthe bumblebeesPlace the hivehorizontally, which isimportant for the sugar
  26. 26. Opening the Hive
  27. 27. How do your tell if your Flowers are Pollinated Properly• For most crops you will have to trust in your bumblebees and observe fruit set and wait until harvest to see the fruits of their labor• Tomatoes are a different story…
  28. 28. Bumblebee Bite Marks onTomato Blossoms
  29. 29. Can Bumblebees Over-Pollinate• When too many bite marks are observed a flower suffers from over-pollinaton. It means that the flowers have been visited too many times by foraging bumblebees.
  30. 30. What’s the Downside to Over-Pollination?• The downside of over-pollination is that it negatively affects the health and longevity of your bumblebee hive• Over-pollination can be minimized by feeding your hive supplementary pollen available from Koppert
  31. 31. North America’s Perfect Pollinator
  32. 32. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME John Wolf Pollination Specialist Koppert Biological Systems jpwolf@koppertonline 734-776-6514 CELL 800-928-8827 OFFICE