We at Ilog Maria Honeybee Farms have been renting out our honeybees for contract pollination since 1980. To date, we have incidentally pollinated or contract pollinated:
Acacia mangium and other Acacia species like: Aurecoliformis and native Acacia.
Arabica, Liberica, Exelsa & Robusta Coffee
Various Vegetables in the East – West Seed Farm
Some greenhouse crops like tomatoes and bell peppers
Kakawate (Gliricidia sepium)
Narra (Pterocarpus indicus)
Eucalyptus (Camaldonensis and Deglupta)
Annatto or Achuete
Mangoes: Indian, Cambodian, Carabao and Piko
Most local and Western Herbs
Herbs & Spices
Recently, we have been successfully renting out our bees for pollination of mango orchards. Late in 2002, we were approached by Geminiano Noche Sr. and his son, Geminiano Jr. asking if we could pollinate their mango farms in Western Batangas. We surveyed their mango orchards and tried to find out how they were caring for their mango trees. They were inducing their trees to flower with potassium nitrate and using pesticides and fungicides, which has become common practice not only in their home province but also for the rest of the country.
To their credit, they were both interested in learning organic methods. In fact, they were already using cow dung and mud press from the local sugar mill to fertilize their mango trees. Sugar is intercropped with their mango trees. After harvest, the rest of the sugar cane was gathered as mulch around the base of their trees.
Geminiano Jr. nicknamed Butch was especially keen in applying as much organic methods as possible in their farms. After much trial and error on his mangoes and on our bees, Butch has somewhat evolved organic mango culture which is compatible with contract pollination by our honeybees:
At the onset of the rainy season, about 5 sacks of dried cow dung are spread around the base of each mango tree. As much mud press as possible is also spread around the base of each tree. Every time the grass is cut, it is also spread around the base of each tree as mulch.
Water sprouts and unproductive branches are pruned regularly throughout the year and made into charcoal. This provides some cash for the upkeep of the farm. Butch believes that the smoke generated by his charcoal making operation help clear his farm of flying pests.
Final pruning is made at the onset of summer.
Regular inspections are made to find out if terminal leaves have reached maturity. They turn dark green and become very brittle.
Butch induces his mango trees to bloom using a fish and seaweed extract / emulsion.
Panicles start emerging from the tips of the branches after about 21 days.
He sprays the panicles against aphids using a solution of blue bar laundry soap and water.
Then he calls us and asks us to bring our honeybee
Just in time for his mango bloom.
We make a final inspection of our beehives.
Butch never sprays while our bees are still in his farm and while the mangoes are still in bloom. When we pull out our bees, he sprays concoctions recommended by Col. Ver Ecarma for mangoes.
And, the results speak for themselves.
And, even more.
In the interim, Butch sprayed organic insecticides like:
5-2-1-6 mix, which is 5 litres water, 2 teaspoons kerosene, 1 packet of Tide powdered detergent, 6 chilli peppers and tobacco water.
osterized neem, eucalyptus and kakawate leaves mixed in water;
laundry bar detergents mixed in water.
3 concoctions by Col. Ver Ecarma: concoctions of gin, trash fish, effective microorganisms, molasses, etc. click to go to "Natural Farming can Save You a Fortune"
He also wrapped each of his mango fruits in paper to prevent skin bruising and blemishes. He found Yellow pages to be the best.
Butch's eight year old trees yielded about 250 kilograms of mangoes each. With an average weight of about 500 grams each.
What was astounding was this: mangoes usually take about 120 days to mature from flower to fruit. Butch's mangoes matured in 90 to 100 days! He was first to market and enjoyed the highest prices!
Each was thin seeded and thin skinned and super sweet.
In 2004, we are now working with Butch to fine tune our methods.
LATEST RESULTS 2004
This is our single macopa tree here in Ilog Maria which benefited from bee pollination.
These pictures were taken with a cell phone camera under less than ideal lighting conditions. 35 Mt from 7 hectares. 17 MT from just a 2 hectare plot
Citrus Pollination is somewhat similar. The only difference is that the citrus bloom is triggered by water starvation followed by a good drenching. Rain drenches better. However, this makes timing especially sensitive for citrus pollination.
LINKS TO CONTRACT POLLINATION
Contract Pollination services are normal in other countries where this has been practiced for about 100 years. We have only more than 20 years experience in the setting of Philippine agriculture, but here are some links that may help you appreciate the value of pollination:
pollinator.com home page : http://www.pollinator.com/
pollination management, how you can assess if your crops are properly pollinated : http://www.pollinator.com/polmanagement.htm
bee pollination in cucurbits: http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/horticulture/nf50.htm