The Buzz About Pollination in Agriculture
Honey bees are the angels of agriculture. The agricultural industry needs honey bees to pollinate the crops and beekeepers need the crops for the bees to gather their food source. In January almost 90% of all commercial beekeepers head to California to pollinate the almond orchards. Orchardists pay the beekeepers to put their bees in the orchard. The bees don’t make much honey this time of year but the pollen is a major food source for the bees. Bees need both pollen and nectar or another sugar source like corn syrup to survive. Bees are fed corn syrup during this time, as the trees don’t have much nectar.
When spring comes around honey bees are moved to fruit orchards to pollinate. These orchards include apples, cherries and oranges. Without bees, we would not have all these wonderful fruits. In fact, we rely on bees to pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that provide 90 % of the world’s food. Spring is also the time when bees immerge from all the hives that didn’t move for pollination and the wild beehives. At this time there isn’t a lot of food source for the bees. Dandelions are one of the first things bees find in the spring for a food source. As much as people hate weeds and even noxious weeds, they are great for bees as a food source.
Summer is the honey production time for honey bees. Bees pollinate many of the crops farmers grow like alfalfa, safflower, fruit trees, and garden vegetables. Beekeepers work with farmers and ranchers to find places to place their bees. The beekeepers pay rent in the form of honey to put their bees on someone’s place. In Montana, there is a 3-mile law that a commercial beekeeper can’t place their beehives within 3 miles of another commercial beekeeper's site. This is for disease control. Farmers and Ranchers need to find who is in their area to know which beekeeper to work with. The crops honey bees work on during the summer produce nectar for the bees to make honey. In Montana, on average a hive will produce 80-100 pounds of honey. When there is a drought year there is very little nectar from the plants and bees can’t always produce enough honey to survive and have to be fed as they do earlier in the year.
Fall is the time that honey production is done. Bees are removed from all the locations they were put on to pollinate and make honey. Some Bees are shipped to potato cellars in Idaho, to hibernate till its time for almond pollination. Some bees go straight to warmer climates or stay in the colder temps but are wrapped to stay warm.
Beekeepers and ranchers work together to get food for the bees and crops pollinated. A good working relationship between the two helps feed the world.
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