Good Fruit Grower

March 15

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T im Smith helps fruit growers and beekeepers find each other and come to agreement about how much a hive is worth for its bees' pollinating ability. He runs a consulting business out of his fruit farm, Apex Orchards, in Shel- burne Falls, Massachusetts, and his major project is arranging for the 50,000 honeybee hives lowbush blueberry growers need to pollinate their crop in Maine. "I help them contract for bees, and I also evaluate the hives for quality," he said. "We settle on a base amount for strong colonies and adjust from there." He's also involved in procuring bees for the almond crop in California. "Almost all of the bees kept by commercial beekeepers have to go to California," he said. There are now about 800,000 acres of almonds there, and at a stocking rate of 2.5 hives per acre, it takes 2 million hives—and that's about the total national supply. It's easy to see why growers eagerly await news in January about how well the nation's honeybees survived the winter. Pollination time in almonds starts in February. Since the onset of colony collapse disorder eight years ago, hive losses have been averaging about 30 percent each winter. The impact of a hard winter could be devas- tating. Almond growers are currently paying $175 to $200 for a strong hive of bees, Smith said. A strong hive is one that has 10 to 12 frames of bees and brood and about 40,000 bees in the hive. That's a lot stronger than what he calls a "base hive" that has six frames of brood and about 15,000 bees. After the almond pollinating season in California, beekeepers move their hives to other fruit crops, and vegetable crops as well. Sweet and tart cherries, apples, and blue- berries all respond to the addition of hives of honeybees. Wild bees play pollination roles as well—but not in California almonds. For apples, Smith says a grower should provide a hive for every 1,000 bushels of apples he or she expects, figuring the bees need to pollinate 5 to 10 percent of the blos- soms to get a crop. Blueberry yields seem to respond in a linear fashion to increasing numbers of hives, and to set all the flowers, it might take seven hives per acre, he said. "For apple growers, deciding number of hives per acre is a risk management deci- sion," Smith said. "How warm will it be? How rainy? What are the chances of frost during bloom?" Blueberry growers pay $90 to $110 per hive, and apple growers less—$60 to $70. Need to pollinate Apple pollen is sticky and heavy, he said, so insect pollination is very important while wind pollination is not. Moreover, apples need to be cross-pollinated. Good pollination increases the number of seeds set per fruit, boosts fruit size, improves the shape of the apple, and causes more consistent maturity, he said. On the 10 MARCH 15, 2014 GOOD FRUIT GROWER Pollination UNLOCK SUPERIOR FIRE BLIGHT CONTROL. © 2014 2/13 ® LLC Simply Sustainable. Always Effective. 1.888.273.3088 | OxiDate 2.0 broad spectrum bactericide/fungicide has been proven to eradicate Fire Blight innoculum on contact, providing an effective alternative to traditional treatment options. OxiDate utilizes its patented activated peroxygen chemistry to attack the Fire Blight pathogen. The rapid destruction of the pathogen's cellular structure provides an effective kill in less than thirty seconds, helping to prevent infection caused by cankers and blossom blight. Simply Sustainable. Always Effective. BACTERICIDE/FUNGICIDE Smith helps growers and beekeepers come together agreeably. by Richard Lehnert Tim Smith works with beekeepers and growers to assess bee colony strength and assure a fair rental price for both parties. Bee renting TIPS

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