This Precision Apiculture project seeks to enhance the health and effectiveness of managed honeybees for soft fruit production. The research challenge has been identified specifically by industry partners. BerryWorld are one of the leading international soft fruit marketing businesses.
BerryWorld are one of the leading international soft fruit marketing businesses, working with growers in the UK, Iberia, Africa and South America. BerryWorld with Hall Hunter Partnership are keen to determine the optimal stocking rate for their soft/top fruit and already have a substantial spend on hives annually.
The aim of this 3-year project is to develop a simple tool to improve the health of honeybee colonies and optimally deploy hives to maximise benefits to yield, quality and profit in soft fruit production.
The World Bee Project is assisting the University of Reading and BerryWorld by providing technical support and training for the research design, set up and running of sensor experiments and will assist in interpreting findings from huge and complex data sets. We are using sensor technology from Bee Hero and cloud computing expertise from Oracle.
The annual benefits of pollination for soft fruit production in the UK alone are worth £490M, with a £334M for strawberries, £112M for raspberries, £15M for blackcurrant, and £28M for other crops. Pollination services are provided by a combination managed honeybees (and sometimes bumblebees) and wild pollinators. But major gaps remain in the optimal management of honeybees for soft fruit production.
BerryWorld, and other soft fruit growers, have a substantial spend on honeybee hives annually, yet evidence to supporting best practices for stocking densities, positioning and management of hives is often outdated or incomplete. BerryWorld growers need to be able to confidently invest in the correct number of hives for their operation and avoid overspend and loss of product quality. This is business critical, as for instance in 2018, Hall Hunter Partnership suffered ~40% loss of their blueberry production which was linked to inadequate pollination.
We look forward to working with growers who seek to improve the health of their honeybee colonies and optimally deploy hives to maximise benefits to yield, quality and profit in fruit production.