NO KETCHUP WITHOUT BOMBUS TERRESTRIS
The buff-tailed bumblebee or large earth bumblebee is a high-performance pollinator. The furry roly-poly is a workaholic par excellence. Significantly more efficient than her lean cousin, the honeybee. The bumblebee works faster than a bee, visits more flowers, carries more pollen and transports heavier loads. It also flies when the weather is bad and cool, when it’s windy, drizzling and gloomy. It’s an 18-hour day. Their diligence is at the same time their curse. A bumblebee reaches the necessary body temperature for survival through contraction of its flight muscles. 200 times per second while flying. This cost a lot of energy. Even with a filled stomach, the insect is only 40 minutes away from a death of starvation. A bumblebee is doomed to feed almost permanently. So, it flies in the search for nectar from flower to flower, flies and flies and flies.
Bumblebees do not have a similar communication system like honeybees. They are not able to transmit the information where an attractive source of food is located. Each bumblebee buzzing on its own, like all colleagues. Since they can run out of fuel quickly, they do not turn their rounds too far from the nest.
All their features make bumblebees ideal for commercial cultivation of fruits and vegetables, especially in greenhouses. Meanwhile, they are indispensable. They pollinate apples, pears, strawberries, cherries, kiwis, plums, eggplants, chilis, cucumbers, melons, peppers, zucchinis, among others. But it all began with the tomato in 1985. The Belgian entomology enthusiast Roland de Jonghe discovered that bumblebees can effectively pollinate tomato flowers through vibration, so that the pollen trickles down on their body. Honeybees do not master this trick. De Jonghe founded the company Biobest. The copyists followed. Today you can buy bumblebees anytime. Around a million nests are sent to the world every year.
In the wild, there is bumblebee alert: Global warming shrinks the southern habitat of many bumblebee species in Europe and North America. Spreading north does not take place. Scientists are puzzling.