Gaining better pollination in Orchards and fruit gardens
- encouraging pollinating insects –
It might be assumed that the very presence of an orchard, or rows of pollen rich strawberries, raspberries, and blackcurrants, would be enough to attract sufficient pollinating insects to do their work. But this isn’t always the case and a little extra thought to encouraging bee colonies to set up home and stay, nearby, can greatly increase the yield and quality of crop. Indeed commercial growers actually buy ‘boxes’ containing ready made colonies of bees which they release into their fruit growing areas to help out with pollinating duties. Such a practice is beyond the average home gardener but you can do much the same thing along more conventional and natural lines.
By planting nectar rich flowers in your fruit tree or soft fruit patch, you can greatly increase the numbers of pollinating insects. Where fruit trees are grown primarily then the aim might principally be thought to provide spring flowers that blossom at the same time. This might help short term – plant daffodils, hyacinths and bluebells beneath your orchard trees will certainly do the trick. But to thrive long-term, Bee populations need an adequate source of nectar throughout the growing season. For that reason, if you want to encourage permanent populations then some thought should go into providing a more comprehensive and long flowering nectar rich display. Of course if you are growing soft fruits then the main flowering period is often later, and certainly many blackberry, hybrid berry and loganberry flowers open rather later as do those of perpetual and autumn raspberries.
With fruit trees, even smaller specimens growing in pots or on the patio, you can underplant with small non competing plants such as French Marigold, Allysum, Chives and Viola. But to get really serious about such matters try to grow some of the following in a nearby adjacent area and try to cover the season.
Spring flowering nectar rich plants
Summer flowering nectar rich plants
Autumn flowering nectar rich plants
And finally, to provide nectar for starving out-of season bees, which may awaken early or be about late, try planting one or two winter flowering subjects such as Viburnum fragrans, Lonicera fragrantissima, Viburnum tinus, Sarcococca and Hammamelis.