ISRAELI SCIENTISTS DEVELOP ALL-WEATHER BUMBLEBEE POLLINATORS
A company operating out of an Israeli kibbutz for the past 35 years has developed a bumblebee that can pollinate even without sunlight, unlike honeybee, and pollinate plants in greenhouses and outdoors.
Writing for ISRAELI 21c on July 13, 2020, Abigail Klein Leichman said BioBee Biological Systems was one of the pioneers of natural agricultural products now sold in more than 100 markets worldwide. BioBee VP for marketing Shachar Carmi said BioBee has three main product lines: natural pollination; biologically based integrated pest management, and; fruit-fly management.
“Pollination is crucial to producing fruit. The most famous pollinator is the honeybee, which is having issues. So we produce bumblebees and that solves many of the limitations of the honeybee,” Carmi tells ISRAEL21c. Honeybees need sunlight to navigate, whereas bumblebees can pollinate indoor plants in greenhouses or outdoor plants under cloudy or rainy conditions. A side benefit is that farmers using bumblebee pollination greatly reduce their use of pesticides so as not to harm the bees.
Biologically based integrated pest management is about providing beneficial insects, plant extracts and microorganisms as chemical-free, safe alternatives to pesticides. “Each one has a target pest it attacks so you have to understand the pest and what can kill it,” says Carmi. “Most of our customers are conventional growers who use chemicals when they have to, but we see a very significant reduction when they use our biologically based products. These products also help keep the chemicals effective because when you can use less the pests don’t become resistant to them.” Lastly, BioBee breeds fruit flies by the billions. “We sterilize the males and distribute them over the area to control the fruit fly population; when they mate with females, nothing emerges from the eggs. It’s a matter of proportion between sterile and fertile males, how many and where, so it’s a complete solution and not just a product,” says Carmi.