Why are bees so important?
Did you know that 1/3 of all the food in the world depends on bee pollination? Bees transfer pollen from one flower to the pistil (the female reproductive part) of another flower. They are also very important in growing our delicious berries, which is why we work closely together with the local beekeeper.
Types of bees
There are three main types of bee in the Netherlands, honey bees (worker bees), solitary bees and bumblebees. Firstly, there is the typical bee population, which consists of the queen, workers, drones and brood (eggs, larvae and pupae). Within this bee population there is a very clear division of tasks. For example, the workers make sure the whole bee household is running smoothly! In addition to these worker bee households, there are about 300 kinds of solitary bees in the Netherlands. The clue to their lifestyle is in the name: these solitary bees live on their own and are not part of a colony. Finally, there are the bumblebees. They prefer to live in a colony and work alongside the two other bee types to pollinate our plants.
We use honey bees and bumblebees in our glasshouses as well as on the fields. There is one colony per half hectare or two/three colonies per hectare. One colony alone holds approximately 30,000 honey bees! Depending on the varieties we grow at that moment, the honey bees stay for a few weeks and sometimes, even for a few months. Every day they feed on the nectar of the flowers and as they do so they pollinate our plants. Honey bees are fair weather flyers and will get to work when the weather is good and there is a pleasant temperature.
A bumblebee colony consists of about 200 – 250 bumblebees. They take over from the honey bees when the weather is not good enough. Now that’s what we call teamwork!