Pollination and Importance of Honey Bees
Most apple varieties are self-incompatible and therefore require cross pollination with a suitable pollinator type to achieve good fruit set. If you look from a practical perspective, then all apple varieties should not be considered self-sufficient. Which means that they can not effectively pollinate themselves? Even the so-called varieties are also called fruitful, such as golden delicious, also need to have other types of trees around them to ensure continuous crop production. Apart from this, two strains of apples of the same variety are not as successful for pollination, as two of them are very similar in varieties. Even the so-called compatible varieties will not even effectively pollinate if their flowering period does not meet with each other. Apple flowers are pollinated by insects. Pollen of apples caused by air does not have any real value in apple trees. Many insects visit the apple flowers during bloom time and some of them are capable of efficient pollination. At present, the honey bees in Himachal Pradesh are the only available pollinator agent that is capable of effectively pollination. Therefore it is very necessary to keep the bee hives in the garden for pollination. The use of honey bees is the only successful way to ensure successful pollination in the orchards.
Standard recommendations for pollination by honey bee have been developed in apple orchards. It is recommended that there should be a honey bee hive per 5 bigha of apple orchards, but every honeycomb should also have a strong colony with a large number of bees. Any bee hive used for apples pollination should have at least six frames, in which minimum 20,000 adult bees should be present. To evaluate the bees in a hive, honey bees, which fly inside or outside from the hive, can be calculated. There is a guideline that on a hot day, at least 75 bees should get out from the entrance every minute from the hive having 20,000 or more adult bees. However, activity of honey bees are affected by environmental factors such as air flow, cloud, temperature of the previous night, and how long the hive is in its present location.
Time to transfer honeybees to the orchards
The right time to move bees in the garden is one or two days before the blooming of King Bloom. This time is very important. If the bees are brought in too early, they can come in contact with pesticides or they may get accustomed to the flowers of other plants which are already bloomed. If the apple tree is already bloomed, bees start working directly on them and do not attract other bloomed plants. On the other hand, if the bees are brought in the apple garden after flowering of trees, then it will not be available for King Bloom, which sets the best fruits. hive should be kept at a place, where maximum sunlight is received at t morning and should be kept in such a way from where there is no effect of air flow directly at their entrance. Hive should be avoided being kept in the shade of apple trees and should not be kept in the garden areas where the chances of getting cold temperature at night are high.
Bees can fly large distances in need of water and if there is no source of water near the honeycomb, then it can fly to great distance to find it. They use water to dilute the collected honey and feed it to the larvae in the hives. If the source of water is available within 100 meters of the honeycomb, bees have to spend less time in search of water and more time is available for pollination.
Competition with other plants
\Flowers of other plants are more attractive for bees and can compete with apple flowers to attract the attention of bees. It is advised that before bringing the bees into the garden, flowers of all types of plants which can compete with apple flowers should be removed.
Requirements of pollinator Types
Apple growers should consider the requirements of pollination while planting and re-planting apple trees and those pollinating varieties should be selected which holds the most consistent with commercially applied varieties of apples. Compatibility between varieties, distance between pollinated species, and bloom time are all important.
Methods of Supplemental Pollination
If pollination is being obstructed due to the weather, then to avoid this situation, pollination varieties should be kept in the vicinity of the main type. This is a painstaking task in which advance planning and pollinator varieties are needed to be cut. These bouquets are prepared after cutting branches from pollinator varieties of trees after King Bloom. These vases should be large and should be kept in buckets or water drums to keep them fresh. If possible, a bouquet with each main kind of tree for effective pollination
Placing pollen at the entrances of the Bee Hives
Studies show that pollen collected from hand and places inside hives can be an effective way of ensuring apple pollination. In this method, when honey bees come out of their hives, some particles of pollen kept there are stuck onto their hairs. Then the particles of these pollen are transferred to the flowers of that apple which flowers are blown on these flowers. This method is most effective when pure pollen is used.