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View Diary: Apple crop failure at our farm (176 comments)

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  •  I live on the lower Skagit River in NW WA State. (3+ / 0-)

    The Skagit Valley has an intensive commercial agriculture industry using lots of insecticides.  I have an orchard with varieties of plums, apples, peaches and cherries.  I got started with bees about 30 years ago to pollinate the orchard, but I stopped about 20 years ago. Back then I had problems with tracheal - now known as acarine mites - (introduced from Mexico back in 1985), nosema (an intestinal tract infection, and wax moths.  All of these  pathogens are preventable or treatable.   Honeybees are non native, inbred for enhanced performance and  I think this makes them extra sensitive to pathogens and insecticide exposure.

    I stopped keeping bees because of the time commitment and because I discovered I was getting adequate fruit set with no honeybees on site.  Some fruit varieties are self fertile and do not require another variety for pollination.

    Over the last 20 years, the honeybee population in my orchard has declined, no doubt because of the increased use of insecticides in the Skagit Valley.  This year I've seen NO honeybees, but there are at least 4 species of native bumblebees that work the orchard, producing more than adequate fruit set.  These native bees (some of them build nests in the ground) may be resistant to insecticides or perhaps they aren't working commercial fields and thereby avoid exposure to insecticides.

    I'm just a small time non commercial orchardist and as long as my orchard is producing, I see no reason to keep bees on site, especially with Colony Collapse Disorder in the news.


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