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

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  •  From the USDA: (8+ / 0-)

    Blue Orchard Mason Bees:

    Honeybees are very important to commercial agriculture, but native bees like the blue orchard bees are better and more efficient pollinators of native crops. There are 140 species of Osmia in North America. They are all known for visiting fruit trees, such as apples, plums, pears, almonds, and peaches. The blue orchard bee or Osmia lignaria, is prized for its efficiency pollinating fruit trees and is one of the few native pollinators that is managed in agriculture.
    There are plenty of bees in the world.  There's no reason to get stuck depending on the imported European honeybee.  Honeybees might be the best bee of them all, but by nature they are a monoculture, with the strengths and weaknesses that come from that.

    Here's a site with resources for starting a blue mason colony in your garden.  I thought about doing it myself one time.  They have the advantages of being more efficient than honeybees, but with a much shorter flying and pollinating range.  Thus they do their work closer to home.  That's a plus and minus.  For you, it's probably good.

    http://www.orchardbees.com/

    Also, you probably don't need bees at all for your apple trees.  Many apple tree buffs on the gardening forums I frequent swear by just beating the trees with a stick.  It helps whether or not you have bees because it stirs up the pollen.

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