We recommend using bumblebees in combination with honeybees for the pollination of apples!
- We recommend 6 or more bumblebee hives per hectare when used in combination with honeybees. Ideally space the bumblebee hives evenly throughout the crop, but keep them as far away from the honeybee hives as possible.
- We recommend a minimum of 9 hives per hectare in the absence of managed honeybees.
The Biology of Apples
Most varieties of apple require cross-pollination from a compatible pollenizer variety. Inadequate pollination often results in small or misshapen fruit, and has been attributed to early fruit drop and poor storage qualities. 6-7 ovules must be fertilised for high quality fruit development.
Bees do not readily switch between different coloured blossoms during a foraging trip, so care should be taken to ensure colours are matched between varieties. Nectar collecting honeybees are less inclined to come into contact with the anthers, and often rob the flower of its nectar. The large size of a bumblebee assists in its deposition of pollen, and bumblebees have shown high mobility when foraging in orchards, increasing the likelihood of cross-pollination.
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