Intensive research into the sight of bumblebees has shown that their vision is different to that of humans. This simple discovery has led to a number of pollination innovations by Koppert Biological Systems. The world’s leading commercial bumblebee producer reports that trials with its innovative ‘bee vision’ features have shown a positive impact on greenhouse pollination; especially in crops grown under artificial light.
What is ‘bee vision’?
Bumblebees need a minimal amount of daylight for their orientation. Research and many years of experience have shown that bumblebees get orientation problems when daylight is reduced by for instance extra layers of poly covers, the darkest months of the year or when artificial light dominates the natural light. The bee vision features on the new range of Koppert hives have been designed to help bumblebees to navigate in these unfavorable conditions. The new Natupol Excel hive, for example, contains even extra cues that are visible to bumblebees alone and enable them to find their hives more easily in crops grown under artificial light.
‘Combining special materials like coatings, colors and changes in the print helps the bumblebees to find their way home faster’, explains Koppert’s Pollination Product Manager, Remco Huvermann. ‘The innovation means that bumblebees use less energy for finding back the hive and have more time and energy to spend on effective pollination. The cues obviously play an even more important role when light conditions are not optimal.’
The bee vision features are now present on all the Natupol hives, including Natupol Smart (small), Natupol (standard) and the large Natupol Excel hive.
New and improved features
The biggest changes were made to the Natupol Excel hive. The ventilation features were improved to help the bumblebee colony to cope with a wide range of temperatures or for those occasions where they are locked in the hive on a regular base (crops with artificial light). ‘We have also added 19% more sugar water. This ensures that the bumblebees have extra energy, which is a big advantage for crops like cherry and other fine tomatoes or in hot conditions, when extra energy is needed to cool the hive,’ says Huvermann. ‘Besides this, the ventilation holes have also been modified and designed in such a way that other insects cannot enter the hive.’
‘We have taken some big, innovative steps since Koppert moved into the field of commercial pollinators in 1989. 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 and highest availability in the market assure optimal pollination and maximum insurance,’ Huvermann adds.
Koppert Biological Systems will be introducing their new Natupol range in Europe as of 1 November 2016 until the end of the year. The new hives replace Koppert’s current pollination portfolio for indoor crops.
Growers’ feedback vital
‘As Koppert Biological Systems grows, so does our need to stay in touch with our customers and growers. We provide our local advisors and distributors with up to date information, so that they benefit from the latest research results and solutions. Keeping our finger on the pulse also means listening attentively to growers in the field and receiving and responding to feedback,’ Huvermann concludes. ‘Many of our solutions are based on growers’ observations and we value their role in communicating the problems they encounter in the field. When it comes to finding solutions for today’s cultivation issues, we are all in partnership with nature to make cultivation and the planet healthier, safer and more productive now and in the future.’
For more information:
Koppert Biological Systems
- Sales Representative Southeastern US
- Bedding and Perennials Sales Manager Europe
- Horticultural Technician
- Head Grower Strawberries, Norway
- Tissue Culture Laboratory Scientist
- Manager Operations & Logistics
- Vegetable Advisor (Permanent)
- Horticultural Commercial Director
- Senior Operations Manager Nursery
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