We recommend using bumblebees in combination with honeybees for the pollination of your plums.
- We recommend a minimum of 6 bumblebee hives per hectare when used in combination with managed honeybee hives
- We recommend 8-12 bumblebee hives per hectare in the absence of other managed bees
Bumblebees are proving especially important for Black Doris, Red Beaut and other earlier flowering varieties that prove difficult to pollinate with honeybees due to sustained low temperatures or poor weather during the flowering period.
The Biology of Plums
European plums (Prunus domestica) and Japanese plums (Prunus salicina) and are grown primarily for the consumption of the fresh fruit, however some prunes (plums with sufficiently high sugar) are grown for drying. Most plum varieties require cross-pollination to set adequate fruit, and must be grown with a suitable pollenizer cultivar (European for European, Japanese for Japanese).
Plums require pollination from a suitable pollinator, such as a bumblebee, with wind alone being unable to provide effective pollination. Even in self-fertile varieties, bees are important for the transfer of pollen from anther (♂) to stigma (♀). Bumblebees show high mobility throughout orchard crops, and perform cross-pollinate well, making them particularly useful in plum varieties. Plums generally flowers earlier in the season, when the adverse weather conditions are more suited to bumblebees than honeybees.
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