Of Bees and Blossoms

Apr 1, 2010 | 4 comments

Our Apple Blossoms

      Our apple trees began to blossom about two weeks ago.  The middle of March!  I can’t remember when spring has come so early to Oysterville, and since no one has mentioned it to the bees they will probably not be on the scene for another few weeks – too late for a good apple crop, I fear.
     A number of years ago, the chili pepper plant on my window sill inexplicably began to bloom. Feeling just a bit foolish, I used a Q-tip and buzzed myself from flower to flower. Amazingly, my efforts resulted in a fine number of peppers!
     I can’t quite imagine solving the apple problem with a Q-tip. Perhaps a small paintbrush? It seems a shame not to give it a try…


  1. Linda J

    Your “be the bee” idea prompted me to do some quick research on apple pollination. The first thing I learned is that most apples must be cross-pollinated. Who knew!? For example, a McIntosh cannot pollinate a McIntosh. A blossom must receive the pollen from a different variety of apple for fertilization to occur. Secondly, I learned that various bee-substitutes have been tried. According to “The Journey of an Apple” on the Yakima Valley Museum site (http://yakimavalleymuseum.org/apple/journey03.cfm), “Grow-ers have experimented with transferring pollen by hand, spraying pollen onto blossoms, dumping from helicopters, and even using shotguns with pollen-filled cartridges, but bees continue to be the best pollination method. The most important reason for this is that blossoms, on even a single tree, open at different times, and bees are on constant duty in the orchard, seeking out the blossoms that are ready.”

  2. Sydney

    Hey, Linda!
    Trust you to do the research! Thanks! We do have two apple trees in the yard so I guess I have to take my little paint brush from one to the other. Or maybe all this wind will take care of it? Did you learn anything about pollination and the wind?

  3. Linda J

    No, but just guessing — the wind would have to blow from one tree to the other and then back again for both trees to be properly pollinated. I’m beginning to see that bees were a very good invention!

  4. Cheryl

    Hi, Sydney. Saw a TV program where the farmers tied feathers on a stick and did some pollenating, but lamented about how much time it took!


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