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yummersetter

Bees and apple pollen

I've been looking at the mix of triploid and diploid apple trees in our original orchard, using some new DNA testing that's revealed that a lot more commercial apples are triploids than was previously thought. Triploid apples have strong growth, big apples but dodgy pollen so need to be pollinated by a ' normal' diploid tree. As the original still-living plantings were 1900-1940, by a kind of natural selection a lot of the old trees have kept going because of the extra vigour from being triploids.
So now I've found that two-thirds of the 40 trees are triploids and of the diploids a lot are related to Cox so won't fertilize each other.
We have an apiary with 6 hives which are surrounded by large triploid trees ( Morgan Sweet, Bramley, Jupiter, Crimson King, Claygate Pearmain) - the fertile trees are beyond them.
I was wondering if anyone was researching if bees have any preference between diploid and triploid pollen and nectar? Or if they're just gorging themselves on the nearby sources of nectar and infertile pollen and not needing to fly the extra few yards. I'm considering having an offshoot apiary on the other side of the orchard if that's what is happening.
Tavascarow

I don't know if any research has been done on pollen preference in apples.
I know bees will always fly to the nearest & strongest pollen/nectar sources first, before flying farther afield, so if your hives are situated as they are, they are likely to visit those trees before looking elsewhere.
Although with six colonies I would have thought their would be plenty of bees to cross pollinate well. How large an area are we talking about?
Why not site your apiary between the two types of trees to improve pollination? Or just spread them out amongst the orchard.
yummersetter

It's an acre, Tavascarow. It's more out of interest than necessity, we usually have thousands more apples than we can manage, though in better years we keep many a starling alive in the winter. The adjoining, newly planted orchard has 90% diploids, so if they had a preference there's plenty of supply.

I wouldn't like to scatter the hives too much, the five dogs, two humans and five chickens use the space randomly, and on the other three sides from the apiary site are two houses and a road.

I've read that there are different amino acids between the two pollen types and it seems like an obvious research project to see if that makes a difference to their desirability.

I have noticed that honey bees aren't in the majority on the apple blossom, there are also a lot of other insects, both flying and climbing. Apparently the osmia rufa bees are more effective pollinators, so says the internet.
Tavascarow

With honey bees it's all about efficiency.
If there is an abundant source of pollen/nectar a little farther away they will avoid what's on their doorstep.
Other pollinators don't need to store food for winter so aren't as picky so will fly to the nearest source regardless of quantity.
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