By Erica Faber – Orchard Productivity Manager, Just Avocados.

Spring is one of the busiest times on avocado orchards and, for growers, the to-do list seems endless. One of the most important tasks is ensuring you have enough pollinators at the right time, to optimize pollination and fruit set.

Ensure you have your bees in the orchard no later than between 5% and 10% open flower. Often growers will be conservative on beehives in orchards but when you have put in all the hard work and expense to ensure good flowering, don’t stumble at the last hurdle – it’s important to do everything you can to ensure the best possible pollination and fruit set.

The only way for fruit to set is for pollinators to move pollen onto the flowers. It’s a numbers game and the more players you have on the field the more goals you will score. We recommend between 8 and 12 hives per hectare depending on flowering intensity and tree density.

To cover all your bases, have bumble bees in the orchard as well at a ratio of 25-50% to honey bees, depending on the weather conditions over pollination. It’s important that your bees work as many hours as possible, so place them in groups around the orchards in the sunniest, most protected spots so that they will be active earlier, working the flowers which will be in the female functioning phase and ready to receive pollen.

Place a source of water close to the hives so that the bees don’t have to travel far in search of water which would mean less time working in your trees. Place a branch or something similar in the water trough so that the bees can safely drink and not drown. Pheromone products can also be used to enhance pollination and are sprayed onto flowers to attract the bees and encourage them to work more intensely.