Bruce Hall looks over the blueberry barrens in Milbridge, watching the bumblebees — the Jerry Lee Lewis’ of the bee world — shake, rattle and roll their way to pollinate recently bloomed flowers.
“They’re like a bull in a china closet,” said Hall, an agroecologist who focuses on diversity in farming systems for Wyman’s of Maine, a major grower of wild blueberries. “They’re just muckling onto things, vibrating and shakin’ away till the pollen starts flying around.”
It’s a rite of spring in the blueberry barrens here in Washington County. The bumblebees are larger than the honey bees that also pollinate the flowers, but they are 10 times more efficient, he said. Also more efficient are the native sand bees, a favorite species of Hall, who studies the interactions of plants, animals, people and the environment.