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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Exceptional Cherry Production in An Orchard Pollinated with Blue Orchard Bees

Authors
item Bosch Gras, Jordi
item Kemp, William

Submitted to: Bee World
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 3, 1999
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: In 1998, a 3.5 acre cherry orchard in North Ogden (Utah), that in previous years had been pollinated with honey bees, Apis mellifera, at a rate of 2.5 hives per acre, was pollinated with blue orchard bees, Osmia lignaria, for the first time. The USDA-ARS Logan Bee Lab. staff managed the release of the blue orchard bee population (2,600 females and 5,200 males) and monitored its emergence and nesting activity. Harvest and yield quantification were conducted by the orchard's owner. As many as 14,132 female and 19,319 male blue orchard bees were recovered after petal fall. At current prices, and after removing the initial investment on bees, the blue orchard bee return obtained amounts $12,825 on the open market. The 1998 cherry yield was 32,800 lb, which is twice higher than the best yield in that orchard in the last 20 years (16,000 lb), and 94% of the cherries made the perfect grade. Information is provided on how the blue orchard bee epopulation was managed and released, and on the potential of this species as a commercial pollinator of cherries.

Technical Abstract: In 1998, a 3.5 acre cherry orchard in North Ogden (Utah), that in previous years had been pollinated with honey bees, Apis mellifera, at a rate of 2.5 hives per acre, was pollinated with blue orchard bees, Osmia lignaria, for the first time. The USDA-ARS Logan Bee Lab. staff managed the release of the blue orchard bee population (2,600 females and 5,200 males) and monitored its emergence and nesting activity. Harvest and yield quantification were conducted by the orchard's owner. As many as 14,132 female and 19,319 male blue orchard bees were recovered after petal fall. At current prices, and after removing the initial investment on bees, the blue orchard bee return obtained amounts $12,825 on the open market. The 1998 cherry yield was 32,800 lb, which is twice higher than the best yield in that orchard in the last 20 years (16,000 lb), and 94% of the cherries made the perfect grade. Information is provided on how the blue orchard bee epopulation was managed and released, and on the potential of this species as a commercial pollinator of cherries.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014
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