Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pollination - Moving bees...

When the light is fading and the bees have stopped flying we arrive with the flatbed truck, she grunts into the paddock and the smoker is fired up.
Several puffs at each entrance of the hives marked with a clod of earth. Clods of earth can symbolise various scenarios on the inner workings of the hive or reminders, a promise of later work. I am sure that each beekeeper has their own system of hive top symbols. 

The full moon is rising, bringing light and less urgency to the work.
Entrances are gently stuffed with fistfuls of grass. We assume our positions, one in front and one behind, sliding our hands under the base of the hive, bending the knees, looking up at the sky, 1, 2, 3, heft! A weighty hive inevitably draws a happy remark from one of us; welcome weightiness speaks of healthy hives laden with treasure.

The truck is loaded, neatly stacked boxes side by side strapped down. The truck sighs willingly baring the load and driving the road up the Far North to the avocado orchids. Rows and rows of trees frothing with creamy yellow sprays of the avocado blooms the Bees have arrived to work. At night it's maze of rows and lanes need deciphering; the orchardist map is pored over leading us deeper into the green labyrinth. Pink ribbons tied to branches at the end of the rows mark the spot. Pallets flung alongside the trees receive the boxes of bees, their new home for at least 4 weeks. All is hushed the trees softly whispering, filling the air with a round malty scent. Placing down two or four groups of hives on the pallets with careful footing, no one wants to drop a box of bees. We open the entrances and leave them to wake and work, to cover each blossom, pollinating and bringing bigger yields and fuller fruit.

Avocado from the Lauraceae family - Persea americana
Bees are main pollinating 'agents'. 
It is suggested that there be more than 6 - 10 colonies
per hectare of avo plantation
With 9 frames of bees and 3 frames of brood

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