In the country.

For a small introduction of myself.

My name is Jacob
And I can currently be found living  in Ireland.

Greg asked me to write about my life in  the countryside, so here comes, the first part of many.

Though I haven’t got much time caused by traveling up to Dublin every day, I try to make the best of it in my hobbies.

One of them is beekeeping.

Though everybody knows them as ” those awful insects that sting”
They prefer not to.
But only if you try to get into the hive or nest, or really annoy one, if they have made their home in a hollow tree, they will defend themselves and the queen/colony.

Though lots of people know they and their family members are responsible for pollinating.
Only a few people consider the effort bees can have on their crops are flowers.

Lets start with crops.
In the Ireland and the UK, Oil-seed rape is a well know crop for the rotation on the land.
But also the flowers of ” poppy’s ” used for the small “moon-seed” flourish if they are well pollinated by whatever insect is coming in their flowers.

Orchards, for apples, pears, plums, cherry’s, black/blue (etc) berries need the pollinators too.

What happens if you let nature itself provide the farmers with pollination?
In most cases the crop continues flowering for a long time and the overall ripening is very fluctuating.
There are flowers early in ripening but also very late.
One thing a farmer cannot use is that a lot of time will go by before he can harvest his crop.
It causes loss of the “fruits” of that crop.
If he goes after the first seeds, the later ripened seeds aren’t ready to harvest and might even not come loose of the plant itself.
If he goes for the later seeds he might loose a lot because the first plants have already let fall their seeds, they were far in front of the later pollinated flowers.
So whatever happens, his crop isn’t that big as it can be with deliberately pollinating with….. “domestic” BEES.

 

Why “domestic” bees can only be maintained so far the stay in the beekeepers hive.
If not well taken care after them they might not have enough room and will go looking for a new, bigger, place.
Therefor the beekeepers has to visit and check his bees on a regular base.

What if a farmer decides to hire a beekeeper for pollination of his crop.

If you put bees right in the middle of a field which needs to be pollinated.
The bees don’t have to fly so far, it is right under their noses, though they have no noses, but their antenna’s have that function of smelling the scent of nectar AND a lot other things too.

Right at the beginning of the flowering period of the crop they work off EVERY FLOWER, sometimes multiple times for nectar of which they make the later honey.
Because of those visits they carry around the pollen of the flowers and therefor, if they visit a similar kind of flower, pollinate the other flowers with the to their bodies attached pollen.

Because they don’t have to fly very far they can put a lot of effort in bringing in the nectar and that causes a stimulus for the queen and nurse-bees in the hive(s) to expand their colony.
That is the time the beekeeper has to watch them closely.
If he would provide them with enough space the bees immediately start developing new queen cells so the new queens will take a part of the colony with them to a new spot and start a hive/nest over there.
IF proper managed the bees can store all nectar in their hive and continue their search for more.

This search for more NEVER STOPS until it turns out to be too cold to fly, but that is only in late Autumn, winter and of course early spring.
But even then, if a mild day is on the cards, the bees have to relieve themselves and make a “pooh flight” (hopefully your car isn’t close to such colony otherwise it will be covered with sticky stains, which are the excretions of the bees).

Because bees follow the flow of the flowers they can expand their colony rapidly.
And while the crop is warming up in the spring or summer sun, the bees numbers will almost explode because of the (almost) not stopping flow of nectar available of the crop.

What can be the effort you might ask?
Well compared to a nature pollinated crop the yield of a crop can rise as much of 300 % with less fall out.

This means that whenever you are able to ask a beekeeper to let his bees pollinate your crop, the season for the plants filling the seeds is longer and shorter.

Shorter ?? I hear you think !!

Yes, shorter !!
A plant that isn’t pollinated very well will keep blooming until enough flowers are pollinated.
For oil-seed rape this means that the seeds of the lower part of the plant, which were the first to bloom, might be ready in mid spring but because of the plant producing more flowers ABOVE the first flowers these later flowers have to  wait till a bee comes again to pollinate and gets rewarded with nectar.
Because of the abundance of flowers, this might take a  while in the natural way of pollination.
With bees in the midst of the field every flower is almost immediately visited and pollinated and therefor the time it has to bloom is shorter, also for the follow up of the first flowers they will be visited almost immediately and they too will bloom shorter as in a natural pollinated way.

This all means, the crop can put more effort in filling the seeds in a shorter time-lapse.
Because it is in a shorter time-lapse the plant can use the warmth and sunlight in an optimal way to fill every seed.

And in mid summer a “domestic” bee pollinated field might already be ready for harvesting.

This has 4 advantages for the farmer.
1. The crop is equally ready for harvest.
2. The period of growing is shorter and therefor the harvest can take place while the contractor has more time.
3. Because of the almost simultaneously ripening of the crop the harvest will mean less seeds will stay behind in the seedpods and there will be less “not wanted” crop the next year in that particular field.
4. Because of early ripening and higher yield the farmer might be able to receive a better price for his crop and the advance CAN be sometimes be triple as much as without “domestic” bees

Off course this is in positive circumstances but still.
With the help of “domestic” bees there are multiple advances for a farmer and therefor for the trade And later all the people that live in the villages and cities.

I hope you’ve found it interesting.

Jacob.