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Migratory Pollination: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Honey bees play a vital role in the pollination of crops. It is estimated that honey bees contribute to the pollination of one-third of the world’s food supply.

Unfortunately, honey bee populations have been in decline in recent years due to several factors, including disease, pesticides, and habitat loss. This has led to a decrease in the availability of honey bees for crop pollination, which has brought about the need for alternative methods of pollination. One such method is migratory pollination. 

What Is Migratory Pollination?

Migratory pollination is a process whereby beekeepers transport bees to farms to provide pollination services. The bees are placed in hives near the crops that need to be pollinated and are left there for the duration of the bloom period. Once the bloom period is over, the beekeeper returns to collect the hives. 

Migratory pollination is most common in California and the Midwest, where it is used to bolster some of the most valued and delicious crops on the market, which we will get into in a moment.

How Does Migratory Pollination Work?

Migratory pollination is a relatively simple process. Farmers who require pollination services contact beekeepers in advance and arrange for them to bring their bees to the farm during the blooming period.

A blooming period is a time when a particular crop is in bloom and needs to be pollinated. During this time, the beekeeper will bring their hives to the farm and leave them there until the blooming period is over. The length of a blooming period varies depending on the crop and can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks.

Once the blooming period has concluded, the beekeepers then transport their hives to the farm and set them up near the crops that need to be pollinated. The bees will do the rest! Some specific crops that get the most attention for migratory pollination include almonds, blueberries, cherries, and watermelons.

The crops that are most commonly pollinated through migratory pollination have a significant value to people. Almonds, for example, are an important crop in California and account for over 80% of the world’s almond production. Blueberries are also a popular crop and are grown in all 50 states in the U.S. Cherry crops are worth around $2 billion annually, and watermelon crops are worth about $1.5 billion each year.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Migratory Pollination?

Migratory pollination has many advantages over other methods of crop pollination, such as wind or self-pollination. First and foremost, migratory pollination is much more efficient than other methods.

Studies have shown that crops that are pollinated by bees result in higher yields than those that are not. In addition, migratory pollination allows farmers to control when and how their crops are pollinated. This is not possible with wind or self-pollination. That’s because the farmer can’t control when and how their crops are pollinated. Migratory pollination places that power back in the farmer’s hands.

There are a few disadvantages to migratory pollination as well. First, it can be costly; beekeepers typically charge by the hive, and farmers may need to hire multiple beekeepers if they have a large area that needs to be pollinated.

Second, there is always a risk that the bees will escape from their hives and cause damage to nearby property. This risk can be minimized by placing hives away from residential areas. Finally, some people may be allergic to bee stings; these individuals should avoid working near migrating bee hives. 

Migratory Pollination Is a Valuable Process in the Bee Kingdom

In this article, we’ve talked about how migratory pollination, as a process, is where beekeepers transport bees to farms to provide crop pollination services. While there are some disadvantages to this method of crop pollination, such as the cost and risk of bee escapees, there are also many advantages, such as increased crop yield and farmer control over when and how crops are pollinated.

At Little Giant Beekeepers, we are skilled in the safe removal of bees from locations where they are either at-risk or pose risks to others. We do our best to preserve the value of the bee while fostering a more habitable environment for the property owner. Give us a call today if you have a bee issue with which we can help!

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