Why bumblebees, not bees?

As of today, bumblebees are recognized as one of the most effective pollinators for agriculture. Due to their body construction, they can carry 2 times more pollen than bees. Bumblebees work from early morning until late at night. They can pollinate plants in cloudy weather and at a temperature of 8-10 degrees Celsius. While under similar conditions, honey bees prefer to remain in shelter. The oral apparatus of bumblebees has a longer tongue than in honey bees, making it impossible for the latter to pollinate certain flowers.

The cross-pollination is guaranteed with bumblebees, mainly because of the unique model of their flight trajectory — frequent changes of plants and plantation rows. Bumblebees are also useful for self-pollinating crops, as they slightly shake the flower leading to its optimal pollination.

Do bumblebees produce honey?

Bumblebees produce honey, but in quite a small amount, since they don’t need to make supplies for the winter, unlike bees. Bumblebee honey is more lightly-colored than that of bees, less sweet and fragrant. At the same time, it contains twice as much protein, sucrose and mineral substances as the regular honey.

How many hives are needed per hectare for effective pollination?

Each culture has its own pollination specifics. We recommend consulting our specialists in regard to conditions and duration of applying bumblebees on your farm.

How to properly place hives?

We recommend placing the hive strictly horizontally, without tilting, at a height of 1-1.5 meters from the ground level (from our practical experience, it is better to allocate hives at a height of about 1 m) on top of a stand, where it will be well visible, protected from ants (the beehive should also have additional protection from ants, for example, some amount of solidol applied to a stand post. No object should get in the way of bumblebees’ flight, preventing them from exiting the hive.

When using one hive, place it on the field (a vegetable garden, orchard) by orienting the flight tray to the East or South. When using 2-3 hives on the same field, arrange them side-by-side, with opening trays facing different directions. Protect the hive from direct sunlight and condensation. Contact our specialists so they provide a detailed layout for hive placement.

When is it better to place hives?

We recommend installing the hives 3-7 days before the flowering begins (in the open ground) or starting from the time when the flowers have opened (in the closed ground).

Is packaging reliable enough?

Bumblebee families from “Dziva Kraina” come in unique handmade wooden hives, crafted by our team. The main material is plywood, which ensures dryness and stays warm during cold and humid weather and protects the bumblebee family from sudden changes in temperature and precipitation.

Can bumblebees be used in pair with bees?

Bumblebees can be successfully used together with bees for pollination. Sometimes bumblebees are unfairly treated as bee competitors. Usually their interaction can be described as a peaceful neighbourship. There are cases when normally heavy-bodied bumblebees made it easier for their smaller relatives to collect nectar on plants.

There are many options for the joint arrangement of bumblebee and bee colonies. You can consult our specialists, who will create the most optimal hive location scheme, which considers all vital factors.

Can I move or carry the hives around?

If necessary, you can move the hive around the farm, for example, from one site to another. A few hours before sunset, open the tray (“in flight” position). When all the bumblebees return to the hive, close the tray and move the hive. Open the tray early in the morning, but not earlier than 2 hours after the installation.

How to protect bumblebees when using chemicals?

The use of chemicals for plant protection can harm bumblebees. Some substances can affect adults, others have an effect on larvae, while consequences of this become visible in a week or later. During the chemical treatment, all bumblebees must be locked inside the hive and removed from the crop. Before using chemicals, open the tray to the “entry” position. Wait 3-4 hours, until all the bumblebees return to the hive. Completely close the tray, then remove the family from the greenhouse. The most suitable place for keeping families for the next few days will be a well-ventilated room with a temperature of 15-20 ° C.

After the chemical treatment it is important to place the hive in its original place. Do not remove the hive from the greenhouse for more than 3 days.

The use of certain chemicals doesn’t always require the removal of hives from the land. For more detailed advice, please contact our team.

What is over-pollination and how to avoid it?

The problem of over-pollination is only relevant for closed ground and for small number crops.

For example, at the beginning of tomato flowering period it is important not to overdo with the number of bumblebee families. If 100% of the opened flowers have a mark on them, it means the bumblebee had visited it as soon as the flower opened. When the pollen is in shortage, bumblebees can repeatedly sit on the same flower this time leaving not a separate mark, but rather marking all the stamens brown. Therefore, at the very beginning of flowering, it is recommended to place out only half of the bumblebee families out of their normal quantity. This also helps to ensure that families of different ages will be working on the greenhouse in order to avoid failures in pollination.

To avoid this type of problem, we recommend that you hold a primary consultation with our specialists.

Should I be concerned about bumblebee stings and use special protective equipment?

Bumblebees are peaceful insects and sting only when they feel “pushed against the wall” or when the beehive is in danger. Avoid rapid bodily movements, noise and strong fragrances when working with bumblebees. When moving the hive, its flight tray must be tightly closed.

For how long does the bumblebee family work?

Under normal conditions, the family’s activity lasts from 8 to 10 weeks (for closed ground) and about 4-6 weeks (for open ground). The family can live further, if it stays on the same location on the crop, no insecticides are used on plants and the conditions are favorable.

What to do with the hive when the bumblebee life cycle is over?

Our hive is made from natural and biodegradable material. Once the life cycle of bumblebees is over, it is easy to dispose of the hive without any harm to the environment.

Why do worker bumblebees try to seal off the holes with wax?

Bumblebees close the flight tray with wax under large temperature fluctuations or during drafts. This is bumblebees’ way to regulate the climate of the nest. There is no need to remove the wax from the tray to give way for the flight. Once the temperature is stable, the bumblebees themselves will remove the wax.

Why doesn’t the family immediately start flying once the tray is open?

The family had made a long journey before it is placed on the field. Bumblebees experienced stress during transportation, which can affect their ability. However, this is quite rare and normally the bumblebee family would adapt in 3-5 days. In addition, after the transportation, some supply of pollen still remains in the hive upon arrival, and this may also be the reason why bumblebees do not leave the hive.

If you are using bumblebees for pollination of plants in a closed ground, it is important that that greenhouse has good climate conditions for collecting quality pollen (not just for temperature and humidity, but also enough water supply for the plants, as this affects how attractive the flower pollen is for bumblebees). If bumblebees find pollen unattractive, then they will have less incentive to fly to flowers.

It is recommended to open the hives early in the morning. Prior to this, they must remain in the closed position for a minimum of 2 hours.

Why is one family is active and the other is not?

Bumblebees are living organisms and each has a different reaction to the changing circumstances. While we strictly control the quality of bumblebees selected for transportation, each family has different ages within one hive. For each batch, the age gap may be as high as one week, depending on how numerous are the existing offspring.