The wild blueberry flower carries both male and female organs but is self-sterile. It must therefore be fertilized with pollen from another blueberry flower to produce a fruit. The blueberry fields of Lac-Saint-Jean occupy an area almost equivalent to that of the island of Montreal. « Native » bees and other insects come without invitation, but their numbers are clearly insufficient to pollinate them in their entirety. Producers in the region order and install more than 30,000 hives each spring. Honeybees are at the origin of 80% of the pollination of blueberry fields in the region, estimates Mr. Jean-Eudes Senneville, President of Bleuets Sauvages de St-Félicien. Without their work, we wouldn’t bite into apples, strawberries, raspberries, almonds, onions, or eggplants. More than fifty fruits and vegetables, in fact. A healthy hive is home to between 30,000 and 60,000 bees. During the three weeks of flowering, from late May to mid-June, between one and two billion bees will forage for the white blueberry flowers of Lac St-Jean and produce blueberry honey.
Value of fruits and vegetables pollinated by bees
Quebec: $200 million
Canada: $2 billion
(Sources: Fédération des apiculteurs du Québec and Honey Council of Canada)