Our first honeyberry blossoms appeared today – I saw one on a Berry Smart Blue (Czech #17) and another on an Indigo Gem. This is a few days earlier than last year and a month earlier than 2013.
And the bees arrived just in time!
This is the first year we will have honey bees on our land thanks to a providential encounter I had this morning with a local commercial honey producer who was setting out hives in a hay field about 3 miles from us. Larry and his son place 2200 hives, 48 hives per site, throughout a 100 mile range of woods/lakes/small fields of hay, oats and corn that thankfully sees little commercial pesticide use. Producers in the Red River Valley which starts 45 miles west of us can lose up to 60% of the bees in a season, attributed to pesticides in their huge mono-crop fields. Our producer only loses about 10% in our area. He placed a set of 48 hives a mile apart from each other at each of our orchard sites. Worker bees fly 2-3 miles from their hives in search of pollen and nectar so they should be happy to find a feast at their doorstep with 5+ acres of fruit, hay fields and pastures, creek and forest with basswood trees and other native pollinizers in the area.
Many insects, even humming birds, pollinate honeyberry blossoms. We have lots of native pollinators – bumble bees, etc., but we’re happy to have some more. Honey bees are smaller and have more difficulty than bumble bees in accessing the pollen in the deep honeyberry blossoms, plus they need warmer temperatures to fly (above 55F/13C) than bumble bees (50F/10C) but having hives in the neighborhood can be an asset to pollination by the sheer numbers of honey bees. We had 47F/8C today but it is projected to be in the high 50s this weekend. Plus we soon will have many other blossoms easier for honey bees to access – cherries, currants, gooseberries, saskatoons, etc.
- Wild Bees as Crop Pollinators: a Case-Study in Haskap webinar
- Xerces Society’s “Guidelines for Providing Native Bee Habitat on Farm article.