Chris Weidman of City Point Cranberries in Wisconsin tells us in an interview that he originally became interested in bumblebees when he started paying attention to what his local bumblebees where doing out in the bogs. Chris is a big believer that proper pollination is a huge factor that relates directly to the yield and quality of the cranberries he raises. Because of this, Chris said it made sense that City Point Cranberries should give Koppert bumblebees a try. Chris tells us that for the last 3 years in which they’ve used bumblebees in conjunction with honeybees; they’ve seen consistently larger yields on the acreage where they’ve placed the bumblebees. Each year Chris uses a few more bumblebees, testing to see if this trend continues. He tells us that 2009 was a good year to use bumblebees in Wisconsin. Chris reported up to double the yield in the bogs where they used bumblebees, as opposed to the bogs where only honeybees where placed. Sound unbelievable? Chris says he’ll show you the records. It should be said that increases like these are not always the norm, but these kinds of results are not rare and occur in a variety of crops pollinated by Koppert bumblebees. Chris also tells Koppert that the standard way of pollination, using honeybees, is not something he is ready yet to walk away from. Chris said, “We are not at the point where we would go without honeybees, but we are at the point where we would never go without bumblebees.
Radhouan Mansour, producer of tomatoes and sweet peppers in Tunisia, is working hard to gain export status. He is doing so in close cooperation with Nutriplant, one of Koppert’s local distributors. The initial experiences with bumblebees have been positive and their advantages are now crystal clear. “Producing tomatoes without bumblebees is inconceivable”, according to Radhouan. “The fruit formation is very even, and thanks to better pollination there are more fruits with a better weight, a better shape and a longer shelf life after harvesting. Post-harvest losses have also greatly declined, so there is much less work involved and revenues have increased”. Radhouan Mansour sees Koppert and Nutriplant as strategic partners; together looking for practical solutions for his issues and problems.
Radhouan Mansour, Chott Meriem, Tunisia
Masiá Ciscar, established in Lepe in the Spanish province of Huelva, grows strawberries in macro tunnels covering 100 hectares. Seven years ago, the company switched to Natupol. Until that point, pollination had been poor, and the fruit quality was not optimal. The Koppert bumblebees improved the situation, says José Manuel Masiá: “Since using this product, a greater percentage of our production can be classified in quality class I”. He sees that hives offered by other suppliers are sometimes a little cheaper. “But we growers always think everything is too expensive. The fact is that the Koppert bumblebee colonies have a long working life; the bees are active for six to eight weeks. Koppert also provides a better service than other suppliers. If I order bumblebees through Koppert, they are flying around in my crop a day or two later”.
José Manuel Masiá, Masiá Ciscar, Lepe, Spain
Will Hales manages Hales Farms, based in the state of Maryland. The business is multifaceted and produces amongst other things grain, vegetable seeds, maize, soya, winter wheat and the fruit and vegetable crops tomatoes, sweet peppers, cantaloupes, strawberries and seedless melons. In 2008, Hales gave bumblebees the opportunity to prove themselves in seedless melons. “We had heard that bumblebees would be more effective in this crop than honeybees”, he explains. “Bumblebees don’t require absolutely perfect conditions to do their work”.
The results confirmed their impressions. “We are more than satisfied with the yields. Some varieties had the best yields ever. And one of our varieties produces an early melon of high quality but was not particularly productive. Thanks to the bumblebees, we suddenly saw a record yield that we had never thought possible!”
Will Hales, Hales Farms, Salisbury, USA