Pneumatic beehome frame for pollination at the most favourable times
Metazet FormFlex, Schenkeveld Tomaten and Jan Lelij have joined forces to produce a new frame system for positioning bumblebee nest boxes, in close collaboration with leading bumblebee breeders Koppert Biological Systems. More than 30 years of experience in producing Natupol bumblebee colonies has resulted in Koppert’s best practice advice for optimal pollination for crops grown under artificial lights.
Best possible position
The initial Beehome Frame was introduced at Schenkeveld Tomaten in 2013, in the Dutch village of Den Hoorn. The success of this system soon had other leading tomato growers in the Netherlands adopting the Beehome Frame. Three types of frames have now been designed for positioning rows of 12, 6 and 4 boxes respectively per hectare in the greenhouse. Koppert recommends using two types of these frames, with 12 Natupol nest boxes placed above the path, plus 4 or 6 nest boxes positioned in the apex of the greenhouse above the crop for optimal pollination results. This second frame is only used for introduction purposes in December.
Best practice advice
De hommelkasten worden met de opening om en om, naar links en naar rechts, in het frame geplaatst. In combinatie met de verschillende kleuren van de sluitingslepels zorgt dit ervoor dat hommels de eigen nestkast beter terug kunnen vinden.
Koppert’s best practice advice is also to position the entry holes of the nest boxes alternately to the right and the left on the Beehome Frame. Colour coding on the Natupol nest boxes ensures that the bumblebees are able to find their own nest box with ease. The nest boxes are geared for bumblebees to do their vital pollination work at the most favorable times. For this purpose, the openings can be regulated using a timer or computer. Alternatively, a pneumatic mechanism can eliminate the need to install an electric connection in the greenhouse. When the air pressure drops, the cylinders in the nest box openings push the barriers open again.
In the months that the sun shines directly and strongly – September, October, February and March – you can protect the bumblebees against extreme heat by installing protective plates that have been designed to fit the Beehome Frames.