Farmers – thaliawhite

Farmers


 

Much of our diet relies on crops being pollinated properly. The bee farming industry, through the provision of managed and targeted pollination services, is in a unique position to help improve crop yields and increase productivity.

Managed honey bees are the most efficient means to ensure successful pollination of a wide range of crops, including: top fruits, soft fruits, oilseed rape (OSR), field beans and borage.

The increased size of today’s fields and orchards along with the high costs of fertilisers mean that growers have the benefits of managed pollination. Introducing the correct number of honey bee colonies into or around crops at the optimum time guarantees pollination. This increases yield and provides better quality fruit. Wild pollinator populations (eg, bumblebees, solitary bees, hoverflies) are at an all-time low and most feral honey bee colonies have been lost to varroa – more reasons why pollination management has become increasingly important to the farmer and the environment.

In early spring, when they are most needed, natural pollinators such as bumblebees and solitary bees are few in number. By comparison, honey bee colonies coming out of the winter will contain 25,000-30,000 bees – a much larger active pollination force.

 

Oilseed Rape (OSR)

Research in Canada shows an improvement in seed yield of 15-20 per cent with the introduction of two honey bee colonies per hectare (Sabbahi, 2005). There is also the benefit of uniform, early pod set with a shorter flowering period (by nearly four days) which could benefit disease control. If oilseed rape is grown for seed, germination success is increased from 83 per cent to 96 per cent through the presence of bees. Oil content is also increased by around four per cent.

Field Beans

More pods set on the lower trusses of field beans and yield can be increased by 1380 kg/ha with the introduction of managed honey bee colonies.

Borage

A high level of pollination is essential for borage to produce maximum yields. The flower heads of borage plants open for one day only. Therefore, it is crucial to get honey bee colonies to the crop just before flowering begins. Trials in New Zealand showed 20 per cent increase in yield when bees were introduced to the crop.

Top Fruits and Soft Fruits

Both top fruits and soft fruits benefit from managed pollination. Quality is far superior; seed content is high which makes for better shaped fruit and higher yields. The calcium content in apples is increased with insect pollination, giving the fruit a longer storage life. Honey bees need to be introduced to these crops once there is approximately five per cent blossom. This encourages the bees to work right away. If they are placed too early, they may search for other food sources away from target crops.

Honey bees can be used in a polytunnel or greenhouse environment for soft fruits. Yields can be increased by 30 per cent and fruit size can increase by ten per cent. The proportion of misshapen fruit is also reduced significantly.

 

Our high quality Pollination service is available to growers in the South East of England. We provide the required quantity of honey bee colonies in an appropriate condition to work at the time they are required. Our professional expertise ensures we can work with growers to ensure the optimum placement and density of hives for maximum pollination, with minimum disruption to other farm activities.

 

 

How it Works:
  • The grower places an order with Bee Conservation. 
  • The contract is agreed between Bee Conservation and the grower.
  • Delivery, placement, management and removal of the honey bee colonies is undertaken by the Bee Conservation.
  • Guaranteed Strength of Honey Bee Stocks

Stocks of bees are expected to meet a quality standard as advised by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). 

Further Information

Farmers and tree growers have an indispensable role to play in our well-being and the environment. They contribute to food production and influence large sections of our landscape.

We work with farmers to improve the environment and the quality of life of future generations. 

Pollination is a key ecosystem service, vital to the maintenance both of wild plant communities and agricultural productivity. Insect pollination, mostly by bees, is necessary for production in 84% of all crops in the Europe and 75% of the crops that are used directly as human food worldwide. In 2005, the economic value of insect pollination per year amounted to approximately £120 billion globally and about £440 million in the UK. Crop pollination services depend on both domesticated and wild pollinator populations, and both may be affected by a range of recent and projected environmental changes, with unknown consequences. There has been growing concern in recent decades about the fate of both domesticated and wild pollinators, leading to special initiatives by the Convention for Biodiversity (International Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Pollinators) and a number of continental, national and regional programmes. Clearly, insect pollination is an important agricultural input. 
how to ensure that pollination services for food production remain reliable under the continuing threat of further losses of UK pollinators resulting from changes in agricultural practices and climate. By identifying ways to provide sustainable pollination services we will contribute to food security, sustainable agricultural practices, maintenance of consumer choice for UK grown produce and ultimately to the nation's health and wealth. Specific beneficiaries include: Farmers and fruit growers. Given the strong evidence that managed and wild pollinators are in decline in the UK, the challenge is to ensure that the production of field and fruit crops which rely on insect pollination is not compromised. will fill a current  gap on the degree of dependency of UK crops on pollinators, allow the supply of pollination services to be properly matched to producer requirements.
By helping producers safeguard their crops, under current and future threats of pollination shortfalls, we will help ensure that UK fruit varieties are maintained and readily available to retailers. This will make sure that UK produce is less likely to be replaced by imported equivalents, thereby supporting UK consumer choice for high quality local produce.