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Visionary innovation for bumblebee pollination

Koppert has found an effective way to aid bumblebee navigation. Based on the bumblebee's vision, this innovation has a direct impact on its performance in the crop.

'Bumblebees have different vision to humans. Research shows that better visual orientation can have a positive effect on overall pollination,' says Koppert's Pollination Manager, Remco Huvermann. 'All Natupol hives have now been equipped with what we call 'bee vision' features to reduce orientation problems and increase the effectiveness of the bumblebees.


Natupol Excel has been specially designed for crops with a high density of flowers, such as cherry, snack tomatoes and strawberries.

Navigation aid in unfavourable conditions Huvermann explains that bumblebees need sufficient daylight for their orientation. 'Bumblebees start to have problems with their orientation when daylight is reduced or when artificial light dominates the natural light. The impact on pollination (of up to 40% in some cases) is often underestimated. A strong reduction in daylight can be caused by extra layers of foil, screens and the crop itself, and is at its worst during the darkest months of the year,' Huvermann explains.

New innovative solutions based on three years of extensive research now help bumblebees during these unfavourable conditions. The Natupol hives contain additional cues, combined with a special coating, printing pattern and hive door material in specific colours, which make the hives much more visible to bumblebees and enable them to orientate themselves more easily. The Natupol Excel hive has extra cues, visible to the bumblebees alone, to help them find their way back even more rapidly. This has a direct impact on effective pollination. The 'bee vision' cue is one of several innovations that Koppert features in its new Natupol product portfolio.

Better ventilation and more sugar water, further innovations to the Natupol hives include larger ventilation holes in the Natupol Excel hive. These give the bumblebees more control over the internal hive climate when temperatures rise or when the colonies are shut at regular intervals, as in crops grown under artificial light. The holes are covered with a special mesh to protect the hives against unwelcome visitors.


Bumblebees see things differently from humans. Three years of intensive research conducted with external specialists has produced an innovative solution.

The Natupol Excel hive also contains a large colony and 19% more sugar water. These Natupol colonies can come to full expansion and are suitable for crops which produce large amounts of pollen (high number of flowers) such as fine cherry/snack tomatoes and strawberries. The extra sugar water can also be used by the bumblebees to regulate the temperature in the hive. More sugar water will also ensure greater and longer pollination. The sugar water inside the Natupol hive is of a high quality. 'It's like a sports drink for bumblebees,' Huvermann explains.

Koppert established itself as a world leader in the commercial production of bumblebees in the early 90's and has maintained its position as a quality standard through continuous research by its own R&D department and leading institutions in the field of natural pollinators. The international company now has bumblebee production facilities in Slovakia, Turkey, Mexico, and the United States - strategically located to ensure that the bumblebees reach their destinations ready to start pollinating as soon as they are released. 'The recent innovations are going to make our commercial bumblebees even safer, more efficient and effective pollinators. The new range of Natupol products carries features that have optimized the hives to make it even easier for the bumblebees to operate in sub-optimal circumstances and in a variety of growing conditions,' Huvermann asserts. 'Many of our solutions are based on growers' observations and we value their role in communicating the problems they encounter in the field. Satisfied customers are our top priority.'

'We have taken some big, innovative steps since Koppert moved into the field of commercial pollinators in 1989. And we have been working towards a system in which growers gain the maximum pollination benefits with the minimum hassle ever since,' Huvermann adds. 'The new Natupol system is the result of 26 years of accumulated expertise coupled to the latest technology - our best bumblebees, technically advanced hives, combined with our customized advice, that deliver consistent performance and the best availability in the market.'

'Trends, technology and growing conditions in both protected and outdoor crop environments have changed radically since Koppert first introduced its bumblebees to the market. Anticipating future challenges and finding solutions keep our R&D department in top gear,' says Huvermann. 'When it comes to finding solutions to today's production issues, we are all essentially in a partnership with nature to make cultivation and the planet safer and more productive now and in the future,' Huvermann concludes.

For more information:
Koppert Biological Systems
Email: info@koppert.com
www.koppert.com

Publication date: 3/17/2017

 


 

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