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Ongoing project

Development of blue-banded bees as managed buzz pollinators (PH19001)

Key research provider: Western Sydney University

What’s it all about?

This project is developing a range of management techniques that will enhance the potential of using blue-banded bees as an alternative pollinator in commercial greenhouses. Operating procedures and pollination guidelines for specific crops will be developed so that growers have access to multiple options for pollinating their crops.

Blue-banded bees have shown preliminary promise for use as mass-reared pollinators, particularly as pollinators of tomatoes in Australian greenhouses due to their ability to perform buzz pollination – that is, using vibrations to remove and collect pollen from flowers incidentally fertilising them.

Specifically, the research team will:

  • Conduct further research to overcome current limitations in the use of blue-banded bees in greenhouses by:
    • Enhancing bee navigation in large greenhouses with different crops
    • Identifying and developing pollen and nectar sources (natural and artificial) to use in greenhouses to maintain healthy managed bee populations
    • Understanding and managing the effects of current crop pest and disease management activities on bee health and developing mitigation methods to reduce impacts
  • Review common diseases of blue-banded bees and trial control methods
  • Develop procedures for mass-rearing blue-banded bees.