Bumblebees are indispensable and highly-valued 'colleagues'. They have been used as pollinators in tomato crops for many years. To ensure that the bumblebees can do their work as effectively as possible, the conditions must be optimal.
You can improve the effectiveness of the bumblebees by making all aspects of their ‘work’ easy and pleasant. We do this by means of the Natupol system: these hives are equipped with all kinds of innovations. Horticulture is changing, and the system is changing with it.
Amongst other aspects, the increase in the use of assimilation lighting in tomato crops required an adaptation of the Natupol system. Assimilation lamps emit a lot of red light; a color that bumblebees cannot see. If there is little natural light, they are reliant on the grow lights in order to find their way around. That is not easy: finding the hive takes a lot of time and the bumblebees are almost literally in the dark. This means that they can spend less time on the job of pollinating.
Help with navigation in the greenhouse
Ideally, you want bumblebees to fly out only when navigation is effortless for them. The Wireless Beehome system offers the solution! This system allows you to set opening and closing times for the various Natupol bumblebee hives, so that the bumblebees can only fly out in favorable light conditions. You can therefore prevent them losing their way as a result of the assimilation lighting in the greenhouse, and thus optimize the pollination effect. It's so easy to operate, too: one central transmitter controls all the bumblebee hives.
We have made even more changes to the Natupol system. For example, UV markings were added to the bumblebee hives some time ago, making it easier for the bumblebees to recognize their own 'front door'. This helps them return home more easily and more quickly.
The Metazet system, often used by Dutch growers, goes one step further: this comprises frames with multiple hives, situated high up in the greenhouse, opening and closing automatically.
Koppert developed Natupol Excel for crops with lots of flowers (such as cherry tomatoes) that require a higher growing temperature. The difference between this and the 'standard' Natupol system is that there are more bumblebees in the hive, they are given more sugar water, and the ventilation openings are larger. The latter feature prevents worker bumblebees from having to spend a lot of their time cooling the hive – time that could be better spent in the crop.
In short, Koppert ensures optimum conditions for bumblebees, guaranteeing you as a grower optimum pollination results!