Posts Tagged: nectarines
It was a golden moment.
The honey bees that collected pollen from our nectarine trees today looked as if they were lugging gold nuggets left over from the California Gold Rush. Struggling with the heavy pollen loads, some of the bees crashed to the ground.
The nectarine trees burst into bloom last weekend but the bees seemed to pay no attention to them until today, Presidents' Day. The queen (bee) probably had something to do with it! "Hey, girls, if I'm going to be laying 1500 to 2000 eggs a day, we need some food."
If you look at peach and nectarine blossoms, you probably couldn't distinguish between the two. Nectarines are actually a cultivar of peaches (Prunus persica). The peach tree, native to China, sports "fuzzy" fruit, while you could say the nectarines are "clean-shaven."
No one knows when nectarine varieties first surfaced, but according to Wikipedia, "the first recorded mention in English is from 1616." Pomologists figure that the peach was probably grown much earlier, though, in its native range.
One thing's for certain: thanks to a mild winter and early spring, our nectarine trees are blooming a couple weeks earlier this year than last year.
Honey bee on nectarine blossom on Presidents' Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
With a head dusted in pollen, a honey bee works the blossoms. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Pollen-packing honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Cool temperatures and honey bees do not a good team make.
Since honey bees don't forage until temperatures hit 50 to 55 degrees, we haven't seen many bees gathering pollen from our nectarine trees.
If you love nectarines, there's a lot to love. California boasts some 29,300 bearing acres of nectarines, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's down slightly from the 30,300 acres tallied in 2009.
Although acreage is down, yields are up. The 2010 crop totaled 8.03 tons, up slightly from the 7.25 tons harvested in 2009.
Meanwhile, pollen-packin' honey bees turned out in force last Sunday to forage on the pink blossoms of our two nectarine trees.
It's Presidents' Day and far too early for nectarines to burst into bloom.
The unseasonable weather, however, fooled 'em.
Didn't fool the honey bees. Despite the relatively low temperatures--50 degrees--they buzzed into our yard to greet the blossoms and carry the nectar and pollen back to their hives.
A touch of blue sky, some silky pink blossoms and golden honey bees.
Life is good.
Caught in Flight
Lots of Pollen
Honey bees, bumble bees, hover flies, parasitoids and common houseflies aren't the only visitors paying their respects to our two nectarine trees.
A picture-winged fly (Ceroxys latiusculus) dropped in on Feb. 28 for a quick visit.
About the size of a common housefly, it's known as a nuisance pest that hangs around the house more than it does around nectarine trees.
Little is known about is biology, says entomologist Whitney Cranshaw of Coloradio State University. Its larvae often develop within the seed heads of Senecio, a genus of the daisy family that includes ragworts and groundsels.
It’s often mistaken for a walnut husk fly.
This one crawled up and down the nectarine blossoms as if mimicking a bee.
In a wing beat, it was gone.
Picture-winged fly (Ceroxys latiusculus) (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Upside down, a picture-winged fly (Ceroxys latiusculus) on a nectarine tree. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ready for take-off, a picture-winged fly steadies its wings. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's a peach of a tree, but it isn't a peach.
It's a nectarine, a close variety of the peach--the result of a genetic mutation.
In between the rain storms, honey bees are nectaring the nectarines and packing pollen, getting ready for the spring hive build-ups.
Like peaches, nectarines originated in ancient China, and not in Persia, as the botanical names, Prunus persica (peach) and Prunus persica var. nucipersica (nectarine), might suggest.
European colonists began growing nectarines in America as early as 1616, historical documents show. That's the same decade that the colonists brought the honey bee to America. So non-native honey bees have been nectaring the non-native nectarines in what is now the United States for almost 400 years.
Two things haven't changed much in four centuries: the beauty of the delicate pink blossoms and the beauty of the industrious bees.
A sure sign of spring...
Bee in Nectarine Blossoms
Pollen-Packing Honey Bee