What Can Be Done About the Bees?
Honeybees aren't as common as they used to be, so consider promoting habitats for other wild pollinators.
Bees are Important Fruit Tree Polinators
Probably the biggest pollination problem now isn’t which fruits, trees, or varieties will pollinate each other, but whether there are enough bees around to pollinate.
Many years ago on the farm, when I was a youngster, I remember blossom time as a time when you always felt you were being dive-bombed by all the bees that were around. My father, the original Grandpa and whose image is “immortalized” in our logo and the catalog cover never seemed too concerned about renting bees and hives for pollination, as there seemed to be plenty of wild bees around then. Also, he was a thrifty German and may have depended on his neighbors to rent hives! After all the bees knew no boundaries!
But now-a-days, bees are really endangered by invasive parasites and not well known diseases and disorders. Whether this is all related to “factory farming” like some think, or overuse of pesticides, or transport of exotic viruses and parasites due to world trade, or “global warming”, we really don’t have enough good answers yet. However, no matter the reasons, there seems to be a dearth of regular, wild honey bees that you can depend on now and domestic beekeepers have been taking huge hive and colony losses.
What can you do? There are a lot of other pollinating insects in the wild. For fruit blossoms, mason-type bees, bumble bees, and other wild species of bees can do a lot of the leg work, but they need habitats suitable for their species to over-winter and live in during the summer. Lots of times they nest in uncultivated grassy areas where there are wild flowers and bushes. So, learn about their needs and encourage these habitats and you will be helping to pollinate your fruit trees in the spring too.
We used to sell Mason Bee kits at Grandpa’s, but stopped selling them as many people thought they had the bees with them. Just didn’t work out well for us, so we discontinued the item. Other garden supply places have them, and sometimes they offer starter bees too. Learn honey beekeeping and start a hive or two of honey bees. It can be a really satisfying hobby and provide honey also.