New research aims to increase longevity of bumblebee hives for NZ growers

New research backed by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) could help bumblebee hives to live longer and be more efficient.

The new project is researching ways to protect the long-term sustainability of New Zealand horticulture, including how to enhance the performance of bumblebee hives using pheromones.

MPI is contributing $160,000 towards the $400,000 project through its Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund.

Dr Gunjan Gera, of Gourmet Waiuku Limited, is leading the project, supported by consultant Dr Jo Stephens.

Dr Gera says bumblebees are often used for pollination in berryfruit crops, glasshouses, and other covered crop areas because the bees tend to travel only about 200 metres from their hives and don’t mind enclosed spaces, whereas honeybees prefer to fly to flowers further afield. Continue reading

Funding is won for research into bumblebee learning

A Plant & Food Research project which is researching the learning capability of bumblebees is among the 136 projects granted funding by the Marsden Fund in the latest round.

Most animals are capable of learning, but being a “good learner” is not always beneficial as learning involves energy investment.

In “The effect of environmental complexity on learning capacity in wild bumblebee populations” project, pollination scientist Dr Lisa Evans and her New Zealand and international collaborators will compare the learning capability of wild bumblebees occupying different kinds of floral environments, to determine whether learning potential provides a selective advantage to bumblebee colonies in some environments but not others.

The outcome will further our understanding of why we observe variation in learning potential within species and whether this can affect the ability of bees to successfully reproduce. This project has received a $300,000 fast-start grant designated for early career researchers.

The Marsden Fund, managed by the Royal Society Te Apārangi on behalf of the New Zealand government, supports New Zealand’s best investigator-initiated research in the areas of science, engineering, maths, social sciences and the humanities.

Source:  Plant & Food Research