Local orchard brings in bees for pollination
By: Matthew VanValkenburgh
A local apple orchard is getting a big hand from a little friend.
There’s a buzz in the air at Indian Ladder Farms in Altamont.
“Every year the Rulison Family Farm brings bees here to the farm, and they get here six in the morning, and they show up with a truck full of hives,” Dietrich Gehring, Indian Ladder Farms co-owner said. “They place them at various places in the orchard according to what our farm manager tells them is blossoming at a certain time.”
With an average of just 10 days consisting of a prime bloom, the bees have a lot of work to do.
“Different parts of the orchard bloom at different times depending on what varieties are growing, so the hives are spaced out through the orchard,” orchard manager Laura Teneyck said. “They will be here for the duration of the bloom, and those bees will go through and pollinate the entire orchard so that we can make sure to have an abundant crop of apples for the fall.”
And while natural pollinators like butterflies and other insects may be abundant on the farm, without the assist from Rulison’s bee hives, the entire apple harvesting season could be at stake.
“The entire crop depends on the pollination,” Teneyck explained. “Apple trees have to be cross pollinated in order to really bare a good crop, and so the bees have to be able to go from one type of apple tree — say a Mcintosh to a Red Delicious — back and forth to be able to get the cross pollination in effect, and that takes a lot of bees.”
And when the bloom is over, the bees return to their hives and are transported back home while the rest of Indian Ladder Farms prepares for the upcoming seasons.
“It’s a really, really busy time,” Teneyck said. “We’re at the beginning of the growing season, so it’s game on.”