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Old 02-25-2010, 03:53 PM   #1
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apple The Role of Native Bees in Apple pollination

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Many local apple growers no longer bring honey bees into their orchards - they are relying increasingly on the naturally occurring native bees for apple pollination.
Pollination * Research * Danforth Labs


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The New York State apple industry ranks second nationally with an average of 25 million bushels produced annually by a total of approximately 694 commercial growers. The value of the NY apple crop was worth approximately $248 million in 2006
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Approximately 30 species of native bees are known to specialize on apple flowers, meaning that they are likely to be highly efficient pollinators in apple orchards. Native bees that are known to play an important role in apple pollination include bumble bees, mining bees, sweat bees, mason bees and cellophane bees. However, the importance of these native bee pollinators is poorly understood.
http://www.danforthlab.entomology.cornell.edu/files/all/danforth_hatch.pdf

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Last edited by Cirsium; 07-20-2011 at 01:55 PM. Reason: repaired link
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Old 02-25-2010, 08:32 PM   #2
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Very interesting. I have a friend who is a beekeeper, and he's been telling everyone that if Honeybees disappear, it may be the end for humans, and I've been telling him that everything in the Americas got pollinated just fine before the European Honeybee was brought over here, and most, if not all things will continue to be pollinated here even if the Honeybees do disappear (if we take care of our native bees).

He's never believed me, maybe now he will. ;-)

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Old 02-26-2010, 10:57 AM   #3
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The results of the study will be helpful. Getting growers to recognize the already prevalent native bees and then how to encourage larger populations of a diverse community of native bees would be awesome.
If they can be shown that native bees exist in large enough numbers to do the job without costing the grower more, the native bees will benefit. Thankfully we cannot force them (the native bees) into huge colonies or steal their healthy stored foods.
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Old 02-26-2010, 12:24 PM   #4
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And one of the best ways to encourage the presence of native bees will be by providing attractive habitat near where they are desired.

What then, constitutes attractive habitat for our native bees? (Beyond the obvious things like discontinuing use of many of the pesticides and other chemicals that impact these tiny creatures. . . )
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Old 02-26-2010, 01:16 PM   #5
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Teresa, my thoughts as well.
It appears that most of the things we do in a garden for wildlife benefits bees.
Clean, pesticide free water.
Areas left a little ungroomed.
Small areas of bare ground like that under hedges or brush piles.
Decaying wood stumps or branches,snags and hollow stems left in some areas.
There are a multitude of ground nesting and cavity nesting bees that will use different niches in your garden or greater landscape.
Growing native perennials, trees and shrubs that flower thoughout the spring , summer and fall
to feed both adult bees and to be stored in nests for offspring.

This link is for Maine but has information valid for much of the east.
If you live out west there are many sites available.

Understanding Native Bees, the Great Pollinators: Enhancing Their Habitats in Maine

http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/PDFpubs/7153.pdf


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Establish set-asides and hedgerows. Bees need undisturbed areas for nesting. Hedgerows or a bit of clutter, such as brush piles of sumac or raspberry canes, can make a safe nest area for them. Set-asides may be areas that are not mowed and are left undisturbed. They could be bare ground, preferably with a sunny, southern exposure ideal for certain species’ nesting requirements. Lack of appropriate nest sites is a limiting factor on population.
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Old 02-26-2010, 02:32 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jpdenk View Post
Very interesting. I have a friend who is a beekeeper, and he's been telling everyone that if Honeybees disappear, it may be the end for humans, and I've been telling him that everything in the Americas got pollinated just fine before the European Honeybee was brought over here, and most, if not all things will continue to be pollinated here even if the Honeybees do disappear (if we take care of our native bees).

He's never believed me, maybe now he will. ;-)

Thanks,
John
Maybe you could soften the blow by telling him that it's cheaper, easier, safer, and ultimately more satisfying to work with native bees.
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Old 02-26-2010, 02:41 PM   #7
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We have both native bees and honey bees in our yard every summer. Since we have quite a few blueberry shrubs, the bumblebees are critical. They are the first to appear in the spring, right when the blueberry shrubs begin to blossom. We also have green sweat bees, and some black & white bees that are about the size of a honeybee. We see a few honeybees too, but they are outnumbered by the bumblebees. I have seen mason bees, also. The yard is pretty close to being organic, in the sense that we don't use either herbicide or insecticide. I do use some Miracle-Grow fertilizer on the blueberry shrubs, but the bees don't seem to mind.
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Old 02-26-2010, 03:52 PM   #8
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A lot of research has been done on pollinating fruit trees with mason bees, a.k.a blue orchard bees (Osmia lignaria). Several years ago bee researchers Jordi Bosch and William Kemp authored "How to Manage the Blue Orchard Bee As an Orchard Pollinator". It's an excellent source of information on raising and managing mason bees.

The book may have gone out of print (the original price was $9.95, but I see it being offered in used condition for $29.95). But the entire book is now online:
http://www.sare.org/publications/bee/blue_orchard_bee.pdf

Some of it is a bit technical in nature (these are scientists), but it contains a lot of information that would be helpful even for someone new to mason bees.
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Old 02-27-2010, 01:37 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Cirsium View Post
Maybe you could soften the blow by telling him that it's cheaper, easier, safer, and ultimately more satisfying to work with native bees.
He's not the type to dig in and refuse to see the light, and I'm not the type to rub it in. I sent him a link to the article, and he was OK.

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Old 03-05-2010, 06:17 PM   #10
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The following publication may be of interest to anyone involved with bees, whether honey bees or native pollinators.

“Managing Alternative Pollinators - A Handbook for Beekeepers, Growers and Conservationists”; Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Handbook 11 by the Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service (NRAES; formerly known as the Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service); available for order on 22 March.
The blurb states that it “...is a first-of-its-kind, step-by-step, full-color guide for rearing and managing bumble bees, mason bees, leafcutter bees, and other alternatives to honey bee pollinators.”
See Managing Alternative Pollinators for detailed information.


(Note: This book is also now available as a free download:
Managing Alternative Pollinators: A Handbook for Beekeepers, Growers, and Conservationists - Online)
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