The magic of pollination has happened and we have a myriad of insects to thank and above all think about. Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male anthers to the female stigma which is essential to kick start cell division and set the fruit. Poor pollination leads to poor fruit set and yield and misshaped fruits, neither good news!
There are many insects that pollinate and to encourage large populations we need to provide sources of pollen and nectar right through from March until September. We must also provide habitat for all these pollinators nesting places and winter hideaways. All our non tree acres must be managed for these very important workers and here on Castle Fruit farm we are increasingly working to provide for them . We leave hedgerow margins, we don’t prune hedges every year, we are planting wild flower banks and keep as much brush, bramble thickets, dead trees and vegetation as possible . We mow every alternate alleyway to let flowers set seed and provide habitat.
This is all a far cry from previous practice when farmers were urged to be tidy and cut and trim and spray everything in sight. What ignorance and with what sad results. I was talking recently with a bee keeper and he was very clear there is overall much less forage for today’s bees. This is something we can all do something about : plant flowers, shrubs , trees wherever we can and be untidy where possible.
We have been working with Sam Ardin who is doing research into pollinators here at Castle Fruit Farm. She is comparing our pollinator populations with other farms and we are pleased to know we lead the field in numbers and varieties of pollinators.
We have active populations of very effective pollinators such as leafcutter bees, some of the larger mining bees like the tawny mining bee, which was very active and some of the most effective hoverfly pollinators – all pictured.
She was clear from her data that these contribute greatly to pollination in our orchards. We look forward to hearing more about these workers needs as we are keen to improve their habitat in any ways we can.
If you would like more information on pollinators and other environmental issues a great website is Campaign For the Farmed Environment http://www.cfeonline.org.uk/home/
In conclusion we are pleased we have had a good pollination and we have not suffered greatly from frosts. We are fortunate to have sloping land and the frost largely flows away. Rain and warmth have come and we are set for a slightly early season but then all these things can change overnight…