While blackberries and raspberries are self-pollinating the assistance of insect pollinators will help to improve the size of the fruits produced. Studies have shown that bee activity is still responsible for 90-95% of pollination.
With the problems impacting the honeybee population you may find that you rarly see honeybees visit your garden these days.
Not to worry there are still the native bees that can make a difference in how productive your berry patch can be.
Small and or miss shapened fruit is the result of poor pollination.
For many of our home gardens the pollination of our berries is performed by a small bee. Unlike the more familiar honeybee’s these bees are solitary insects that are native. They are small black insects that you might confuse with wasps. There are various types located locally around the country.
The nice thing about these bees is they do not travel far from where they emerge. This means that your pollinators that emerge will focus on your berry patch.
This is different from honeybees that will travel up to 5 miles with the majority of their foraging with in one mile of their hive.
They are probably already present in your garden. You may see them on the flowers but you may also be reducing their population when you are performing your spring cleanup in the berry patch.
As you get ready to clean out the dead canes and those that may have died back you want to pay attention to the end of the canes.
If you see holes in the center pith of the canes this is an indication that a solitary bee may have made a home.
As you cut out these out from the berry patch to get it ready for the comming year in the spring you will want to cut these canes into 8 inches sections and gather them up.
Gather these together into a bundle and ties them together.
The bundle size and the length of the canes does not make a difference you are just looking to save as many of the sleeping pollinators as you can.
Take the secured bundle and secure it out among your berry patch.
In the spring once the flowers open you will have these pollinators to help ensure that you get the largest berried possible.