[NAFEX] bumble bee as pollinator

Mike Levine mlevine at umich.edu
Mon Apr 21 19:10:26 EDT 2003


Where can one acquire orchard mason bees?

Mike

----- Original Message -----
From: "Big Swede" <Jfrisk at pionet.net>
To: "North American Fruit Explorers" <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, April 21, 2003 6:24 PM
Subject: RE: [NAFEX] bumble bee as pollinator


> We used to have an Ohio Buckeye tree in our front yard.  The only bee that
> would pollinate it when it bloomed was bumble bees.  The whole tree would
be
> one big buzz.  For some reason the honey bees would never seem to
pollinate
> it.  Judson L. Frisk
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
> [mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org]On Behalf Of Mark Lee
> Sent: Monday, April 21, 2003 10:33 AM
> To: North American Fruit Explorers
> Subject: [NAFEX] bumble bee as pollinator
>
>
> Orchard mason bees seem to get alot of attention in the gardening press.
I
> think it is time bumble bees get some respect, too.  Here's my story to
> explain why...
>
> I have been trying to solve a mystery in the micro-orchard in my backyard.
> What insect is responsible for pollinating my fruit trees?
>
> I live in Seattle.  The past two springs have been incredibly wet and
> "cold".  It didn't snow this year in town, so by the standards of other
> areas, Seattle has pretty mild weather.  But in my backyard in mid-April,
> the apple trees have yet to bloom.  Cherries and pears are blooming now,
but
> no honey bees are in sight.  Except for a few flies and yellow jackets,
> almost no insects are buzzing around my yard.
>
> I have been studying my fruit tree blooms, but I have not observed any
bugs
> landing on the them... until yesterday evening.  The temperature was
> somewhere between 50'F-55'F.  It was between rain showers.  I was weeding
> near a cherry tree.  I heard a load buzzing in the tree, so I looked up.
I
> saw a native bumble bee, Bombus occidentalis, foraging the cherry
blossoms.
> I had never before seen bumble bees visiting the fruit tree blooms, but I
> hadn't paid much attention to them in the past.  This bumble bee was fuzzy
> black with a yellow stripe on its back, and was huge, probably a queen.
>
> I don't know much about bumble bees, except that they are gentle.  I have
> disturbed many of these from their resting places in the weedy sections of
> my yard, but never have I been stung.  I decided to do a little research
> into this bee.  At this site,
> http://www.pollination.com/Managed_Bees_HTML/Bumble_Bee_HTML/bumblebee.htm
,
> I learned
> "Queens emerge from their winter resting stage, called diapause, each
spring
> and begin foraging for nectar and pollen. Bumble bees hold pollen on their
> hind legs like the honeybee. The queen uses the collected pollen and
nectar
> to rear workers.... Bumble bees are currently used commercially for
> pollination of greenhouse tomatoes and peppers.... Research has shown that
> bumble bees are also effective pollinators of orchard crops such as
almonds,
> apples and cherries."
> >From another site,
>
http://www.library.wisc.edu/guides/agnic/cranberry/proceedings/1995/bummac.p
> df,
> I learned that bumble bees have a longer work day than honey bees, and
start
> pollinating around 55'F even if it's wet.  Why do they work so hard?
> "Bumble bees are diligent foragers because each day they must replenish
food
> stores daily or temporarily starve, and they start foraging each day
before
> honeybees can reduce the amount of accumulated nectar per flower".  Work
> hard or starve... that seems to be a good motivator.  God Save the Queens!
>
> -Mark Lee, Seattle, zone 7b/8a
>
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