The farmer wants a hive—inside the world of renting bees

phys.org | 5/23/2018 | Staff
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Almonds, blueberries, apples, melons – all of these fruits, and many more, rely on insect pollination. Some crops rely more on pollinators than others. Insect pollination isn't just about the number of fruits produced – it can also improve the quality of the yield. For example, self-pollinated flowers may produce a fruit, but it might be very small or misshapen.

So how do farmers make sure their crops will produce enough fruit to make a profit? Crops in most parts of Australia have one main blooming period, usually in spring or early summer. The window for pollination usually lasts two to four weeks, depending on the crop. During that time, insects need to be flying around visiting flowers to feed on pollen and nectar to ensure that pollination happens.

Yields - Growers - Honeybee - Hives - Crop

To optimise yields, most growers rent European honeybee hives during crop flowering season. Honeybees were first introduced to Australia from Europe in the early 1800s. Today, the beekeeping industry includes around 600,000 managed hives and is worth around A$100 million to Australia's economy. But it's not just about honey and beeswax products.

Managed crop pollination services have become big business in many parts of the world, including Australia. Although most beekeepers do still keep bee hives to produce honey or wax products, paid pollination services are becoming increasingly important to the industry.

Australia - Almond - Industry - Renters - Honeybee

In Australia, the almond industry is one of the biggest renters of honeybee hives for pollination. Almonds bloom for a few weeks at the end of August and rely almost completely on insect pollination to produce harvestable almond fruits. The many plantations across northwestern Victoria rent more than 150,000 hives each year, costing millions of dollars in rental fees. Costs per hive vary depending on the crop, covering costs to the beekeeper such as how far they have to travel, the time of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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