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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Amargosa Valley Fruit Tree Selection for Bees

Q. Do you have any suggestions on fruit trees for the Amargosa Valley area? I have an apiary out there so I try to plant things that are good for the bees but that will survive the heat and cold out there.

Amargosa vineyard in its first year in 2006

A. Nearly all of the fruit trees that do well in the Las Vegas Valley will do well in Amargosa Valley. You have a commercial winery there that sells its grapes to Pahrump Winery and this same orchard began producing olive oil this past year.

            The problem with fruit trees is that they have a narrow window for flowering and so the bees only get to work them for a short period. Fruit trees that have a longer flowering period would be pomegranate or spread your flowering time out with different types of fruit trees.

Bee in a peach blossom at the UNCE Orchard
            Early bloomers are the stone fruit like peaches, apricots and plums and later the pome fruits like apples and pears begin flowering.

            Vegetable crops and flowers would give your bees a lot to work for a longer period. You should have a lot of leafcutter bees out there from the alfalfa.
Leafcutter bee damage to apricot leaf at the UNCE Orchard
            Make hauling water to their hives as easy for them as possible during the hot summer. Make sure the source of water available to them is clean and you should have no shortage of bees. This could be irrigated basins at the fruit trees that are operating when bees are flying.


  1. You can get bee friendly wild flower mixes (get species prevalent to your area) to keep them in near year round pollen/nectar. Bees are nuts about herb flowers too.I would make the area either in your orchard or in between the hives and the orchard and on a level ground that allows mowing the flowers down during fruit tree flowering time so the bees won't be focusing on possibly more preferred flowers. Wild flowers will also encourage alternate native pollenators as well. A large but shallow pond makes a good landing, watering spot with some mosquito fish (Gambesia) tossed in.

  2. In reading this article, I'm pleased to see that people realize the value of bees on crops. Sometimes word choice creates poor impressions to the reader. In the photo caption on leafcutters, the word "Leafcutter bee damage" might be reworded. Damage suggests that the tree can fail due to this bit of nesting material harvesting... Rather, a better word might be "leafcutter bee activity". Does the orchard want pollination or not? if not, then damage might be appropriate. Most leafcutter bees create circular holes not ragged from the edge like this.

    Dave Hunter, Owner, Crown Bees

  3. Great comment, Dave. I agree wholehartedly. From now on I will be more careful in word selection. Words are everything when we communicate in print.