The duration of effective bee pollination period was limited by caging flowering branches for shorter or longer time in blooming fruit trees in a number of experiments during the past decades. In the case of self-sterile fruit species and cultivars (apples, pears, quinces, some plums, some sour cherries) even partial limitation of the effective... duration of bee pollination period significantly reduced the fruit set and the yield. In the case of self-fertile apricots the effect of the total and also the influence of partial limitation of bee pollination period was the same as in the case of the mentioned self-sterile fruits. On the other hand, in the case of another self-fertile fruits (some plums, some sour cherries), the effect of partial limitation of bee pollination period was usually small, but complete (or incomplete but strong) limitation of be pollination usually resulted in a strong reduction of yield. This means that not only self-sterile but also self-fertile fruits clearly depend on insect (bee) pollination. This is because pollen dehiscence of anthers and the receptive period of stigmas do not overlap in time within the individual flowers. Stigmas in self-fertile trees, therefore, need pollen carried by bees from another flowers of the same tree (or compatible pollen from another trees). Accordingly, additional bee pollination (moving bee colonies to the orchards in flower) is needed to all kinds of temperate-zone fruit tree species when bee visitation of plantations is not abundant enough for some reasons.
Detailed studies and comparisons were carried out on those flower characters of sour cherry cultivars that may affect bee pollination of flowers. Flower characters of sour cherry are fairly similar to other temperate zone fruit tree species. Their relatively small flowers distinguish the Cigánymeggy-types of cultivars from the flowers of tart...cherries cultivars that are conspicuously larger, almost as large as the sweet cherry flowers. The relative position of flower organs was much more variable according to the season than according to the cultivars. So the differences were rather the consequences of seasonal effects than of variety features of sour cherry cultivars. As far as individual cultivars are concerned differences in the nectar production and the sugar concentration are revealed rather between groups of cultivars than between individual cultivars. The pollen production of flowers was extremely changeable in consecutive years. Most honeybees collected nectar at sour cherry flowers; pure pollen gatherers and mixed behaviour bees were half as frequent but differences among the behaviour of honeybees according to cultivars cannot be stated. The fidelity of honeybees to sour cherry is less expressed than to some other fruit tree species. Accordingly, it is very strongly suggested to take the competitive effect other plant species (weeds) flowering in and around the orchard carefully into account when organizing additional bee pollination in sour cherry plantations. Several sour cherry cultivars possess more or less self-fertilization capacity but this is greatly changeable according to the season. It has been proved that self-sterile sour cherry cultivars are sensitive even on the partial restriction of the effective time of bee pollination and it is to be stressed too that even in the case of partly self-fruitful cultivars bee pollination is also vital in yield formation because medium or strong restriction of the effective bee pollination period is of a definite negative effect on their fruit set and yield. In years with unfavourable weather the yield can dramatically be reduced sometimes down to nil. However, very high fruit set is also unfavourable because a negative correlation was detected between the final set and the mean mass of fruits.
Intense research was made on the pollination of cultivated crop plants in the temperate zone region during the past decade. Some 400 publications appeared on the subject and some additional 150 papers on the effect of pesticides to the most important pollinating insects, the honeybee and the wild bees. Progress of knowledge is discussed in this... paper based on the most important publications. Most new results relate to field crops and deciduous fruit species and much less to field vegetables and small fruits. Great effort was taken to improve insect pollination of crops grown under cover. All these are connected to the utilization of the honeybee as a pollinating agent and much less to native or managed wild bees. However, a number of questions arose partly from the results of latest pollination research and partly from practical experiences in commercial plant production. These indicate several research tasks to understand and to solve the problems possibly in the near future. The questions concentrate on the effectiveness of bee visits in the pollination of individual crop plants and their different cultivars and on the reliable estimate of the overall amount of bees as well as on the control of bee density during the flowering periods of crops for optimal, controlled pollination in the changing environment of agricultural crop production.
Preliminary field management studies were made to increase the population density of native early spring Osmia species (O. cornuta, O. rufa) at fruit tree plantations in Hungary. Initial bee activity around artificial nesting media and the population increase during consecutive years were much smaller at large commercial fruit... orchards under intense chemical plant protection than in small mixed fruit plantation with moderate or low pesticide usage. Osmias accepted all the four kinds of tested artificial nesting media (reed, bamboo rods, hardwood blocks and light walling blocks with drilled holes). Reed provided the best nesting conditions so it is suggested to be used in the practice. Calculations showed that under favourable conditions more than 50 to 100 thousand incoming flights (arrivals or landings) occurred in a single day around a single bee shelter and this makes enormous number of possible bee visits at fruit tree flowers. For this reason it is strongly recommended to put simple bee shelters filled with artificial nesting media into fruit orchards. Experiences show that the population sizes of Osmias increase during consecutive years without any specific additional maintenance except providing shelters and nesting media.
Fruit tree species suffered very strong spring frosts in 1997 in Hungary. This caused partial or total damages at buds and flowers depending on site and time of blooming. It was demonstrated at a number of experiments that frost and cold weather also strongly affected the nectar production of surviving flowers. No or very little amount of necta...r was measured in flowers first of all of early blooming fruit tree species (apricot) but also of pear and apple in some places. In spite of this fact intensive honeybee visitation was detected in the flowers of fruit trees that suffered partial frost damage only at those sites where honeybee colonies were placed in or at the experimental plantations and the lack of sufficient amount of nectar did not affected bee behaviour seriously on fruit flowers. This means that bad nectar production failed to affect bee visitation of fruit trees definitely. The reason for this was the fact that not only fruit trees but another early bee plants (wild plants, too) suffered frost damage. Accordingly, in lack of forage bees intensively searched for food at blooming fruit trees with some living flowers. Consequently, there was an acceptable yield at those plantations where bud and flower damage was not complete. Accordingly, intensive bee visitation (that is moving additional bee colonies to overpopulate fruit orchards with honeybees) can be an effective tool to decrease or eliminate the detrimental effect of spring frost on the yield of fruit trees where bud or fruit damage is not too high.