Flowering Preparation - Hints & Tips
Hive Placement + Health & Safety
It is very important to ensure that you identify suitable areas for the placement of your hives. These are ideally sheltered spots with plenty of morning sun, easy and safe to access, with enough room for a truck with a Hiab on the back to swing round comfortably. Giving the beekeeper an updated orchard map which clearly shows the designated drop locations, access paths and general hazard register is another necessity.
Competition and Timing
Preparing your orchard by weed spraying or preferably mowing your sward will reduce the competition between kiwifruit flowers and other flowering species. If your orchard is surrounded by pasture, consider increasing the number of hives or using supplementary pollen to keep your bees on orchard.
Timing is everything during pollination. Hayward hives are often introduced in splits, with some hives at 5-10% flowering with the remainder 2-3 days’ later. For G3, consider introducing all hives at 10-15% flowering. If flower development looks likely to stall for a prolonged period (remain at similar level for 2-3 days), then consider split introduction.
Food & Water
Pollination is thirsty work for the bees! Fill a large bowl, bucket, or bigger container with clean water and dip a towel or sack halfway into the water before distributing these throughout the orchard. This provides a viable water source with minimised risk of drowning and may help prevent bees foraging for water outside the orchard. Beekeepers use a sugar syrup solution to optimise honeybee activity, regularly supplementing the hives with the equivalent of 1 litre daily. Check your beekeeper’s personal protocol—the majority of beekeepers use 2 litres of syrup every 2 days.
Hive Auditing & Monitoring
Hive Audits are a useful quality control tool to help ensure that hives on your orchard meet industry standard. AsureQuality are the main auditing body in the BOP. Aongatete will run a random audit program for any hives we organise.
Monitoring bee activity is relatively easy and is encouraged to help gauge the quality of the hives. For effective pollination of Hayward, approximately 20 bees are required per 1000 flowers—counting time should be limited to around 1 minute. If counts are below 20 bees/1000 flowers you may need to consider supplementary pollen. According to the latest Zespri OPC, the Gold3 Bee to flower ratio should be 6 or more bees per 1,000 flowers.
Pollination Agreements & Summary
Pollination Agreements are mainly used to avoid any future problems during a crucial period and ensure growers and beekeepers are on the same page. There is an easy-to-follow Agreement template on the Zespri Canopy website.
During Bee Awareness month we were encouraged to focus on the wellbeing of bees. The reality is however that, as we rely on honeybees for pollination, we should take time to think about encouraging and protecting them for twelve months of the year. Sourcing bee-friendly plants (outside kiwifruit flowering!), refraining from spraying toxic agrichemicals, minimising the application of adjuvant during foraging hours and considering bee-friendly alternatives to agrichemicals are all great ways to start!
For those of you with questions regarding the organisation of hives or pollination on orchard (including obtaining pollen or pollen application) please contact either Robin Barker-Gilbert or your Grower Services Rep as soon as possible.
Best of luck with pollination!