National Apple Museum
Biglerville, PA 17307
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Early History
of the
Apple Industry
in Adams County

 A is for apple


 apple blossom Pollination must occur for an apple tree to bear fruit. Between April and May, apple buds blossom with pink flowers, and bees are moved into orchards to begin the pollination process. The bees are brought at nighttime, because by that time, the bees have all returned to the hive.

Bees are attracted to the smell and the color of apple blossoms, which contain the sweet nectar which they require. Bees fly from flower to flower in search of nectar; the pollen on the flowers sticks to the bees' hair and is carried to the next flower. This transfer of pollen is pollination. Each blossom that is to produce an apple must be fertilized. During the day, the bees fly from blossom to blossom, storing the nectar that they use to make honey when they return to the hive. While they are collecting nectar, they also collect pollen.

 winesaps Apple blossoms create pollen from the stamen. Pollen sticks to the bees and it is also stored in pollen baskets on their legs. The pollen that is stuck to the bee from one flower, travels on the bee where it is collected by the pistil of another apple blossom. Once the blossom is pollinated, an apple can grow.

Most apples must be "cross-pollinated" - a blossom must receive the pollen from a different variety of apple in order for fertilization to occur and an apple to be produced. For example, a McIntosh cannot pollinate a McIntosh.

Growers have experimented with transferring pollen by hand, spraying pollen onto blossoms, dumping from helicopters, and even using shotguns with pollen-filled cartridges, but bees continue to be the best pollination method. The most important reason for this is that blossoms, on even a single tree, open at different times, and bees are on constant duty in the orchard, seeking out the blossoms that are ready.

To increase the effectiveness of the bees, blossoms are collected in the spring and pollen is extracted. This pollen is then frozen, and, the next season, it is put in trays inside the beehive. As bees leave the hive, they are doused with the pollen. This increases chances of pollination. In the spring bees are moved into orchards to begin the pollination process.

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The Biglerville Historical and Preservation Society
and The National Apple Museum
154 West Hanover Street - P.O. Box 656
Biglerville, PA 17307-9442 - Telephone: 717-677-4556

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