Rental bees help pollinate Canfield's White House Fruit Farm - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Rental bees help pollinate Canfield's White House Fruit Farm

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CANFIELD, Ohio -

The buzz around White House Fruit Farm is very real this time of year. Thousands of bees flying around the orchard hopping from blossom to blossom; most of them rented for just a couple weeks.

"There are local beekeepers that part of their income is renting bees. So not only are they honey producers, but they're in the business of renting hives to orchardists," said David Hull from White House Fruit Farm.

It might seem odd to have these little pollinators-for-hire, but it's actually a pretty common practice for fruit farms; one that dates back to well before any talk of a decline in the honeybee population.

"Fruit needs to be cross-pollinated," said Hull. "You can get a fruit without strong pollination, but you get a better piece of fruit that's bigger, keeps better if you get good pollination."

The general rule of thumb is renting one hive per acre, positioning them all strategically to make sure the whole orchard is covered. When it comes to the family business, they don't want to leave anything to chance.

"You've got so much work and time invested in a year cycle of a fruit production, to not be assured of good pollination by renting bees is kind of a foolish gamble," said Hull.

As you can see, different varieties bloom at different times. So while the bees are only here for a couple weeks, they're slowly working their way around the orchard.

"Initially, the peaches open first and so that's why we placed the hives next to the peaches, but they'll find the apples as they open," said Hull.

When this little two-week window is all done, the beekeeper will come back, typically late at night while the bees are dormant, and lug all the hives back home.

"You want to move the hive at 10, 11, 12 o'clock at night. That's how you know you get the majority of them. And if you don't get the majority of them, the next morning there will be a little ball of bees right where that hive was," said Hull.

After that, it's onto the next project, leaving behind what in a few months will be the literal fruits of their labor.

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