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Pollination management

Pollination Management is the label for horticultural practices that accomplish or enhance pollination of a crop, to improve yield or quality, by understanding of the particular crop's pollination needs, and by knowledgeable management of pollenizers, pollinators, and pollination conditions.

With the decline of both wild and domestic pollinator populations, pollination management is becoming an increasingly important part of horticulture.

Factors that cause the loss of pollinators include pesticide misuse, unprofitability of beekeeping for honey, rapid transfer of pests and diseases to new areas of the globe, urban/suburban development, changing crop patterns, clearcut logging (particularly when mixed forests are replaced by monoculture pine), clearing of hedgerows and other wild areas, loss of nectar corridors for migratory pollinators, and human paranoia of stinging insects (killer bee hype).

The increasing size of fields and orchards (monoculture) increase the importance of pollination management.

Monoculture can cause a brief period when pollinators have more food resources than they can use, while other periods of the year can bring starvation or pesticide contamination of food sources.

Most pollinator species rely on a steady nectar source and pollen source throughout the growing season to build up their numbers.

In 1989, following Hurricane Hugo, massive aerial applications for mosquitoes were done in South Carolina.

The following year, watermelon growers who did not place beehives in the fields, observed the fruit begin to develop, then abort, or develop into small deformed fruit.

There were entire fields that never yielded a single usable melon.

Some growers went out of business; others began to seriously manage pollination.

Since beekeepers were also heavily damaged by the mosquito spraying, the supply of bees for pollination was critically short for several years.

Organisms that are currently being used as pollinators in managed pollination are honey bees, bumblebees, alfalfa leafcutter bees, orchard mason bees, and fuzzyfooted bees.

Other species are expected to be added to this list as this field develops.

Humans also can be pollinators, as the gardener who hand pollinates her squash blossoms, or the Middle Eastern farmer, who climbs his date palms to pollinate them.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Pollination management", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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August 28, 2015

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