90% of the nation's apple crop is pollinated by bees! apple

Honey bee pollination is worth about $15 billion to the food supply.

Wind is not a factor in pollinating Prunus
spp. (cherries and plums) and honeybees are by far
the majority of the insect visitors. Honeybees find this group of plants very attractive visting over 400 flowers in one visit. Sugar
concentrations as high as 55% in sweet cherry
nectar have been recorded which makes the
blossom very attractive to bees.

What can I plant to help bees?

California Natives

  • Button Bush
  • CA Poppy
  • Elderberry
  • Yarrow
  • Fireweed
  • Lupine
  • Madrone
  • Oregon Grape
  • Huckleberry
  • Larkspur
  • Rabbit Brush
  • Toyon
  • Willow
  • Deerweed
  • Tarweed
  • Yerba Santa
  • Mountain Mint
  • Ocean Spray

Field Crops

  • Sunflower
  • Buckwheat
  • Lavender
  • Clover
  • Safflower
  • Rapeseed
  • Soybeans

Extensive List

PollinationWe are currently taking reservations for 2009 spring pollination in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. Please contact us with your location, required number of colonies, estimated required delivery and removal dates, and a daytime/evening phone number, and we'll provide you with a quote. If you are an organic farmer, no cost permanent apiaries may be available for your area, email us with your location. Please be aware we will not bring our bees to pollinate any field or neighboring field spraying The Bayer Company's imidachloprid based products. For a list of these brand names and more information click here. Pollination for organic farmers are given top priority and no-spray farms secondary priority. Bees are in short supply this year.

The Cost of Pollination Increases

Several factors have been playing into the the rising cost of pollination. The first needs no explanation. The rising cost of fuel and getting the bees to the crops. The second is the increasing number of almonds trees in production. The current California almond crop requires about 1,300,000 hives of bees to pollinate them. The number of managed hives in California has dropped to around 400,000 hives. This is due largely to Colony Collapse Disorder which has taken a huge toll on the industry and leaves an uncertain future. These challenges have forced beekeepers to increase their pollination prices.

pollinationPollination Good pollination is essential to the production of most fruit, vegetable and seed crops. Both yield and quality of the fruit/seed are dependent upon the intensity of pollination. Good pollination for crops such as lavender and canola increases the oil content, whereas for cotton it improves the bole quality.  In most fruits good pollination improves quality. Good pollination in apples requires at least six visits by a pollinator which results in good size and shape, more seeds and a higher calcium content.  In large scale plantings honey bees are the only readily available pollinator in sufficient numbers to do the job. Twenty-one additional California fruit and nut crops are known to produce larger yields when pollinated by honey bees. However, efforts to insure good pollination are often not given sufficient attention, especially during the hectic spring season. Obtaining good pollination is not difficult, this is where the knowledgeable beekeeper comes in.

A Few Things to Consider About Pollination

  • Bee colonies must be moved into pear orchards when trees are 30 to 50% in bloom. Due to low sugar content in the pear nectar, the blossoms are not very attractive to honeybees. However, if the trees are well into bloom, they will work the blossoms for a period until they find a more attractive source of nectar. If there is only a small amount of bloom, they will start working more attractive sources almost immediately.
  • All apple varieties should be considered self-unfruitful; therefore, cannot effectively pollinate themselves. Even such so-called "self-fruitful" varieties as Golden Delicious, Rome, Wealthy, Baldwin and Jonathan, etc, need another variety nearby to serve as a pollen source (pollinizer) to set consistent crops. No apple variety is sufficiently self-fruitful to be dependably productive when planted alone.
  • With sweet cherries, move bee colonies in a day or two before the first blossoms open. The flowers have a short period of viability. Sweet cherries must be pollinated quickly. If bees are one day late, the crop can be reduced considerably.
  • If dandelion bloom is heavy, mow days before bees are placed. Heavy bloom is competition for the apple bloom. Light dandelion bloom will just help feed the bees.
  • With ample pollination, the grower may also be able to set his blooms before frost can damage them, set his crop before insects attack, and harvest ahead of inclement weather. Earliness of set is an often overlooked but important phase in the crop economy.


Bee pollinated fruit has been found to mature 4–12 days earlier and to be up to 50% larger, depending on the variety.


Onion (Allium cepa L.) seed yields, particularly hybrid seed, are heavily dependent on bee pollinator activity for pollination, seed set and adequate yields.

A recent USDA study showed Red Raspberries were 30 percent bigger than those plants not visited by bees.

Let these veggies go to seed for excellent forage:

  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Greens
  • Artichoke
  • Cardoon

Garden Plants for bee food

  • Lavender
  • Salvias
  • Mints
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Sunflowers
  • Calendula
  • Cosmos
  • Globe Thistle
  • Hyssop
  • Roses
  • Basil
  • Wallflower
  • Mexican Sunflower

California Agricultural Pollinator Project