Native British Bumblebees now available to UK fruit farmers
Story supplied by LU Press Office
Native British bumblebees have been made available to soft fruit growers for the first time thanks to the efforts of a team led by a Lancaster University Professor.
Bumblebees are important pollinators of wild plants and many cultivated crops.
To guarantee high yields and high quality crops, commercially reared bumblebees are now an integral part of modern, sustainable agriculture. In crops like glasshouse tomatoes they have replaced the use of physical pollination or chemicals previously widely used to induce fruit development.
But until now only the European Cousin of the UK Bumblebee has been commercially available to fruit growers.
And as a non native species their use has been restricted to glasshouse cultures and tunnels due to concerns they may harm native bumblebee populations when used in the open field.
But now Belgian company Biobest has been successful in rearing the native British bumblebees (Bombus terrestris audax). The native bumblebee will be available to outdoor fruit growers from Kent-based BCP Certis, as well as through Biobest's UK distributor Agralan.
Professor Felix Wäckers, Director of Research and Development at Biobest, is based part time in the Lancaster Environment Centre.
He said: "Bumblebees are especially effective pollinators. They produce their own heat, which in combination with their furry coats enables them to fly early in the season when it is still far too cold for honey bees and other insects. They also differ from honey bees in that they 'buzz' or shake the flower to collect pollen, which makes them especially effective in assuring pollination.
"In field crops, like strawberries, raspberries and currants, UK growers have until now been unable to share in the many benefits these pollinators offer. This puts them at a major disadvantage relative to their foreign counterparts.
"We reared the UK species to meet the demand from soft fruit growers and conservation bodies. It's a native species so now farmers and growers can use these top pollinators on crops grown in the open field."
Tue 20 April 2010
Lancaster University computer scientists are at the forefront of a UK-wide BBC initiative launched today to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology.
Tue 07 July 2015
Over 200 pupils from eight schools across the North West got a taste of what it’s like to study STEM subjects at Lancaster University.
Wed 01 July 2015
Researchers at three top UK universities are developing new ways to simultaneously power and communicate with robots and other digitally connected devices – commonly known as the Internet of Things.
Mon 29 June 2015
An engineering student has received an award in the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Mechatronic Student of the Year contest.
Wed 10 June 2015