We use bumble bees to pollinate our strawberry plants. Why? Simply put, without bees, our fruit would be misshapen and our yield lower. Many other factors will affect these things, but it’s just to show how important pollination is here on the farm. Good pollination means the berry will be the perfect heart shape due to the seeds swelling evenly. Below is an example of poor pollination and uneven seed swelling.
Bumble bees are hard little workers, no amount of rain or cold weather will stop them, making bumble bees a trustworthy choice for our strawberry plants. It can take a bumble bee 6-12 visits to pollination 1 strawberry flower.
The bees are introduced to the crop as soon as we get the first flowers. If they are released before this, the bees will be a bit eager to start pollinating and force the flower open. This will also result in a misshapen berry – if a berry even grows at all.
So, do bumble bees help?
A study carried out by Dimou (2007) which you can find by clicking here, found that rows pollinated by bumble bees produce more well-shaped fruit and total marketable fruit production was double compared to the control row that had no bumble bee visits.
We are hoping for some strawberries at the end of April (weather dependant), a later crop this year due to the mighty cold spell this March!