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When tropical temperatures threaten, introduce extra bumblebees in your tomato crops

09/06/2020 - When temperatures are forecasted to exceed 30°C, it is important to introduce extra bumblebees in your tomato crops to ensure the population remains at the appropriate level. Biobest Advisor Sam Gui explains why. 

“Almost all tomato growers use bumblebees year-round for pollination – on average three hives per hectare per week,” he says. “When a hive is introduced, the workers reach peak activity two weeks later. Bumblebees deliver excellent work for up to six weeks after the introduction of the hive. After that, it is time for new hives.”

 Less activity, more flowers

When outside temperatures exceed 30°C, it can trigger several things at the same time. 

“Bumblebees do not really like the heat, especially when it shoots up unexpectedly,” explains Sam. “To cool down their brood they tend to go out more often in search of water and are less active pollinating crops. Meanwhile, tomato plants generate more flowers at these higher temperatures. Reduced bumblebee activity, coinciding with an increase in flowers, can upset the balance of the population. Every year we see several growers experiencing this problem.” 

Temporary introduction of extra hives

All tomato growers want to avoid this issue, particularly if striving for perfect trusses. The solution lies in anticipation.    

“If it appears that temperatures will rise above 30°C, we recommend growers to immediately introduce extra bumblebees,” explains Sam. “It is then easier to get ahead of the problem. A new hive then has a bit of time to get up to speed – particularly as bumblebees have a harder time achieving that at 30°C.” 

“What’s more, the Biobest bumblebee hives offer something extra. The patented ventilation system, which is integrated into the lid of the outer box, helps to keep the temperature lower in the hive. So, do not forget to open the ventilation system when temperatures get warmer.

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