Pollination
Santa Clara Valley Beekeepers Guild

Pollination is the process of transporting pollen from the anthers to the stigma of a flower(s). Most plants require pollination to bear seed or, as the case may be, the fruit that contains the seed. While this can be accomplished by the wind the plants benefit greatly from the insects where wasps, flies, birds, bats and bees carry the pollen from one place to another. The fruits that we enjoy can be deformed or non existent if the pollen is not moved to the right place at the right time.

For gardens and fruit trees in the Santa Clara Valley to yield a "good crop" the owner may need to provide some pollinators and bees are about the only option. In the recent past there were many feral honey bees and native bees available to accomplish the task. Now that the feral honey bees have about been wiped out by the imported mites and native bee habitat is in short supply, keeping bees (or having a neighbor that does) is about the only solution.

Keeping honey bees is a good solution to this problem because they (1) range over a large area, (2) tend to stay with the same type plant so the right pollen is moved to the right plant, (3) are active most of the year and (4) they provide a great bonus -- Honey. For these reasons, and more, keeping a hive will help the garden, the fruit/nut trees and you. There are many web pages and books available on how to get started with a honey bee hive, so we will not repeat that information here. Rather see the Books and Links pages we have provided. Then, come to one of our meetings and talk to others - we have those that recently started in beekeeping and those who have been at it a long time.

While the honey bee is a good pollinator there can be legal complications and/or other problems with a hive in your yard. Don't despair, there are other types bees you can consider that will help without the complications of a honey bee hive. You should consider the Bumble bee or the Orchard Mason bee for your yard. We have provided overview pages (with some links) on the Bumble bee and the Orchard Mason bee to get you started toward pollination without keeping honey bees.

There is considerable pollination information available on the web but here are a few links that have been found interesting:

Insect Pollination Of Cultivated Crop Plants
This is a book by S.E. McGregor and originally published by the USDA that has been put on line by Bee Culture magazine. Start here if you think you have pollination problems with your fruit trees or garden and want to know if bees would help.

The Pollination Home Page
Site that has lots of links to get you started.

Impact of Honey Bees on the California Environment
If you worry about the native bees in California and the pollination of our native plants then this is a must read. (Suggested by our speaker at the meeting of April, 5, 2004.) Key words may be "habitat alteration or destruction," for our native bees, not honey bees ... but draw your own conclusions.

Santa Clara Valley Beekeepers Guild
April 28, 2005