As BC blueberry growers rely on honeybee pollination for reliable fruit set, the health of blueberry-pollinating colonies is of utmost importance. The BC Blueberry Council works with member growers to ensure management of fields is done with the health of the bees and other pollinators in mind.
Did you know?
- Blueberries require insect-mediated pollination (bees) to produce decent yields.
- The combined visits by both honeybees and wild bee species (particularly bumblebees) during blueberry bloom leads to better seed set, larger fruit, and higher yields. Adequate fruit size can make the difference between making fresh grade versus process grade.
- Blueberries that develop without bee pollination tend to be small and usually don’t reach marketable size.
- Research shows that without pollinators, highbush blueberry yields in B.C. decrease by 30 to 50% from typical levels. This decrease can be more substantial with some difficult-to-pollinate varieties.
- Mature, healthy blueberry fields in B.C. typically produce 12,000 to 16,000 pounds per acre, and in some cases, yields can exceed 20,000 pounds per acre. Yield losses are substantial without adequate pollination.
- Honeybee visitation to blueberries is influenced by the number of hives stocked within a 1000 m radius. When all blueberry growers in a region place honeybee hives, everyone benefits.
- Wild bumblebees are highly efficient pollinators. In the Lower Mainland, wild bumble bees make up over 20% of the total blueberry flower visits. Wild bee abundance increases with proportionally more semi-natural habitat. However, in most cases, wild bee populations are not adequate to support full pollination.
- Place 2-4 hives of honeybees per acre starting at 5-10% bloom.
- Encourage wild bumblebees by providing flowering plants along field edges or in pollinator gardens. Bumblebees benefit from flowering plants that bloom before or after blueberries.
- Avoid all insecticide sprays during bloom.
See the full pollinator info sheet prepared by industry experts here.
For More Information
B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Food
Blueberry Production Guide (See 'Pollination' section)
Pollinator Habitat Project
For the second year running, the BC Blueberry Council offered the Pollinator Habitat Project, supported by Syngenta. Learn more below!
Through this funded project, interested growers had the opportunity to create a bee-friendly garden on their property. This project aims to incorporate pollinator habitats into existing blueberry fields to increase bee diversity and pollinator services.
Check out more details on the project - Program Flyer
Project intake is now closed.
See a grower testimonial below:
Pollination Services *
Bear Creek Honey
Mart C van Herk
Lee Gibeau, Director of Beekeeping Operations
7480 176 St
Loe-Bee Honey Farms
Paradis Valley Honey
* This list is not exhaustive- we will continue to update it as information is gathered.