Bumblebee Pollen Substitute

Newcastle University wished to commission a piece of research to ascertain the need or willingness of the bumblebee producers to use a bumblebee pollen substitute as opposed to the current honeybee collected pollen.

The challenge

Bumblebees have been reared commercially since 1987 for the pollination of a range of soft fruits grown in poly-tunnels and glasshouses.

The bees are delivered in cardboard hives to the soft fruit growers and are currently fed honeybee collected pollen. There are approximately 30 producers of bumblebees worldwide with 3 of the largest producers based in Europe.

The University wanted to know the size of the market, current feeding regimes, any issues with honeybee collected pollen and the willingness of bumblebee producers to adopt a new pollen substitute.

The approach

A small amount of secondary research was conducted to identify and build an appropriate database of bumblebee producers. Primary research was then used to interview commercial bumblebee producers with particular focus being paid to the top three bumblebee producers.

Producers of bumblebees are located all around the world and therefore Accelerate Associates interviewed respondents in their native language to ascertain the most conclusive answers to the questions posed.


As part of the research Accelerate Associates was able to interview some of the key producers of bumblebees worldwide, including two of the largest based in Europe. Both companies expressed a strong interest in the research being undertaken at Newcastle University and their work in the development of a pollen substitute.

Accelerate Associates was able to identify unique intelligence with regards to the size and growth of the commercial bumblebee market, including details on the most commonly produced bee species. Information was provided to the University as to the volume of honeybee collected pollen used globally by bumblebee producers and the cost thereof.

The research also highlighted the main customer groups for the bumblebee producers and the legislation that governs the production and export of bumblebees.


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