Sunday, April 23, 2006

Pear Pollination

My dwarf Bartlett pear is in full bloom. It looks beautiful and smells wonderful. You would think that having the tree loaded with all those flowers would insure that I will have lots of pears in early September. It may, but not if my pear blossoms do not get pollinated. My crop of pears from the tree last year was only 14 pears. I'm not complaining because they were delicious. It's a small dwarf tree, and I think it easily could have supported 3 times that many pears. I think the problem was poor pollination. As far as I can determine, there are three things that will help pollination. The first is a nearby variety of pear that will pollinate Bartlett. Pears usually require another variety for pollination, but from what I read, Bartlett can be self-fruitfull, although it will do much better with another variety to pollinate it. In all of my neighborhood I only know of one other pear tree. It's a Bosc pear in my neighbors yard. It's the last of an orchard that existed here before houses replaced it in the late 1920s. Most of the houses ended up with a pear tree in the backyard. That means that my neighbors last old Bosc pear tree is probably over 80 years old. It looks it, but it is alive and still blooms and produces a few pears. My neighbor tells me it seems to have produced a little better since I planted my dwarf Bartlett about 5 years ago, probably happy to have a pollinator nearby. It lists and has hollow areas and I fear it may soon be a goner. I hope it hangs on.
Another factor that that helps pollination is nice weather. Rain during the entire blooming period keeps the bees from doing their work of pollination. So, poor weather will contribute to a poor crop. This bring us to what I think is the most important factor in pollination, bees. As bees move from flower to flower, pollen that sticks to their legs can pollinate the next flowers that they visit. In the 3 or 4 days that the weather has been nice an thye tree in bloom, I've watched for bees. So far I've only seen one bumblebee. I've seen NO honeybees. It's funny how something can disappear and not really be noticed. Where are the bees? After doing some internet research, I've discovered that wild honeybees have been decimated by certain kinds of mites. There really are less wild honeybees. I read that honeybees may range up to 3 miles from their hives. I'm hoping that there are some beekeepers nearby and that a few of their bees may be finding their way to my pear tree when I'm not watching.
This has given me an idea about possibly keeping bees myself. I'm considering taking a course in beekeeping and possibly setting up a hive next year. I have a friend who is also interested so maybe we will learn together. I'm not sure if this will be OK with my neighbors. I'll need to investigate that as well deciding if I could develop the Zen-ness of attitude that's probably required to work with bees. My kids think it's a crazy idea. Many pastimes that I have found rewarding in life, my kids initially thought were crazy ideas so I may be on to something here.


  1. It's one of my great ambitions in life to keep bees. I hope you go through with it; I would love to hear about your hive's progress.

  2. I have yet to see a honeybee this spring. You might check the zone-ness before you groove your the zen-ness of beekeeping. Can you have a hive in your community?

    Although they are self-sustaining, I understand that keeping a hive will involve a lot of work several times a year.

    Sue Hubbell has a book called "A Book of Bees, and how to keep them" that I really enjoyed.

  3. Pablo,
    Thanks for the book info. I'll check the zone-ness, but I also thought I'd clear it with my close neighbors. I have nice neighbors and I wouldn't want to get them upset. They already put up with my hens.

  4. I hope you get lots of lovely pears this year! My husband is very interested in bee keeping too, but he hasn't tried it as yet. He did a course as an elective while studying at Cornell and found it fascinating.