Pollination 101

Pollination is the process of transporting pollen from the anthers to the stigma of a flower. Most plants require pollination to bear seed or, as the case may be, the fruit that contains the seed. While this can be accomplished by the wind, the plants benefit greatly from the insects where wasps, flies, birds, bats and bees carry the pollen from one place to another. The fruits that we enjoy can be deformed or non existent if the pollen is not moved to the right place at the right time.

For gardens and fruit trees in the southern Santa Clara County and surrounding areas to yield a “good crop” the owner may need to provide some pollinators and bees are about the only option. In the recent past there were many feral honey bees and native bees available to accomplish the task. Now that the feral honey bees have about been wiped out by the imported mites and native bee habitat is in short supply, keeping bees (or having a neighbor that does) is about the only solution.

Keeping honey bees is a good solution to this problem because they

  1. range over a large area,
  2. tend to stay with the same type plant so the right pollen is moved to the right plant,
  3. are active most of the year, and
  4. provide a great bonus: honey!

For these reasons, and more, keeping a hive will help the garden, the fruit/nut trees – and you. There are many web pages and books available on how to get started with a honey bee hive, so we will not repeat that information here. Rather see some of the links below and check out our Resources page for more suggestions. Then, come to one of our meetings and talk to others – our members include those that recently started in beekeeping and others who have been at it a long time.

While the honey bee is a good pollinator there can be legal complications and/or other problems with a hive in your yard. Don’t despair, there are other types of bees you can consider that will help without the complications of a honey bee hive. You could consider the Bumble bee or the Orchard Mason bee for your yard.

There is considerable amount of pollination information available and here are a few links that we have found interesting:

Creating a Year-round Honey Bee Garden
A presentation given by Sharon McCray at our October 2016 meeting.

Insect Pollination Of Cultivated Crop Plants
This is a book by S.E. McGregor and originally published by the USDA in 1976 that has been put on line by Bee Culture magazine. Start here if you think you have pollination problems with your fruit trees or garden and want to know if bees would help.

The Pollination Home Page
Site that has lots of links to get you started.

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