Apple Trees

The apple trees are the reason I became a beekeeper. When we moved to our home in the summer of 2006, I was so pleased to have 8 apple trees (and 2 pear trees and a cherry tree), but discouraged that we didn’t get more fruit on the trees. I consulted an arborist who suggested that perhaps we didn’t have sufficient pollinators present to help turn those blossoms into fruit.  “That’s easy to fix,” I thought, “I’ll just keep bees. If my friend Laura can do it, I can too.”  

So I spent the fall and winter reading about bees, bought the hive and equipment, tools and protective gear, ordered bees, and voila, when spring came, we had pollinators.

It’s worked really well, the bees have helped to create trees dripping with fruit. The only problem is…I’m in a constant competition with the local wildlife to get the fruit. The last two years the only apples I got were from the trees down the street next to a busy road, if that tells you how successful I’ve been (or not) at protecting my harvest.  But I keep trying, and hopefully this year I’ll hit on the right combination of deterrents and contraptions to keep the apples for ourselves and not giving it over to the myriad deer, raccoons, squirrels, possums and turkeys that come for the annual end-of-summer feast.

Here are the trees pre-bud, March 6, 2012.

I’ve tied ribbons around two of the branches containing buds on the apple tree closest to the house. The cute ribbons were made by students at Carmel Academy and were wrapped around t-shirts the school gave to attendees of the annual “Erev Tov” dinner dance. 

I’ll keep taking photos of these two branches to show their progression from twig to bud, to flower, to fruit (I hope).

This year because of the unusually warm weather, the blooming of the apple trees has been very early. The past several years the fruit trees have been in full bloom the first weekend of May.  This year, they’re in almost full bloom right mid-April. We have to hope we don’t experience a late frost, as it can kill the blossoms–then there’s no fruit. We have to also hope the trees are able to access enough moisture in the earth from their roots to create nectar. There is so much blooming right now, the problem is we are experiencing a drought, and though pretty, the flowers may be dry.  No nectar, means no food for the bees.

Full Bloom!  

Usually, the apple trees are in full bloom the first weekend of May, I usually plan a brunch that weekend to take advantage of the pretty scenery in the yard. But this year, bloom is a full three weeks early. We have to hope we don’t get a hard frost from here on in, or it will kill the developing fruit.  This is the apple tree closest to the house. My little vegetable seedlings on the Vegetable page have grown up. Here you see them at the bottom of the photo, I’m hardening them off to get them ready to plant in the garden.

The blooms are all gone, and this tree had the most, so of course, it has the most fruit. Several of my other trees had no or almost no blossoms, and consequently, there are no apples.  We’ll see what happens as they begin to ripen, hopefully I’ll be able to stave off the inevitable attacks from squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, birds and deer, and be able to actually harvest some fruit this year.  As me about the Great Greenwich Apple Caper some time…

May 30:

As you can see above, the tree’s blossoms became tiny apples. Unfortunately, the damn squirrels and raccoons got every single apple and pear on every single tree in the yard (8 apple trees, 1 pear tree). Each year I try different methods to keep them out, this year, I didn’t fight them, they win every year anyway. What a shame. If you know of a way, a product, a trick to keep the apples that doesn’t include netting the trees (they’re too tall), let me know!

It was too depressing to take photos of the empty trees, I’d rather look at them as they were in the spring.

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