Pollination by bumblebees in apple

Why bumblebees

Bumblebees are very effective and reliable pollinators that : 

  • Work quickly (for example, they visit twice as many flowers per minute if compared to honeybees).
  • Can transfer up to 2,2 times more pollen to the stigma per visit if compared to other pollinators.
  • Can carry relatively heavy loads, which enables them to make long foraging trips.
  • Work from sunrise to sunset.

Bumblebees achieve more


  • Work very well in protected or netted greenhouses/tunnels/orchards.
  • Are active at relatively low temperatures (around 8-10°C) and at cloudy conditions (low light intensity levels). Even strong wind and drizzle will not keep them from doing their job.
  • Stay in your crop and work well in less attractive crops/cultivars. Do not leave en mass to visit other more attractive crops.
  • Achieve optimum cross-pollination due to their unique flying pattern often switching plants and rows.

Effective pollinators

In short, bumblebees bring you confidence and convenience, are easy to use and handle and their flying behaviour ensures very good self and cross-pollination. This makes bumblebees exceptionally effective pollinators of crops, both in greenhouses and in open-air situations. The evidence has been clear for over twenty five years: bumblebees always work!

Innovation in tomatoes

In 1987 it was discovered that bumblebees, applying there unique buzz pollination (vibrating the flower using the wing muscles)  are the best pollinators of tomatoes replacing the very labour intensive manual pollination.  At that very moment Koppert started the production of bumblebees. Actually Koppert is the world market leader in bumblebee production and pollination.

Meanwhile bumblebees are being used worldwide for the pollination of tomato crops resulting in:

  • increased productions: 20-40%
  • enormous savings in labor costs 
  • improvements in fruit quality

Combination with honey bees

Bumblebees can also be applied in combination with honeybees and complement each other as a very good team. They also can be used as an extremely effective stand alone pollinator. Honeybees are known to visit crops in large numbers when the weather is good. On the other hand bumblebees also visit the crop from early morning till dawn when environmental conditions are less than perfect.

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