Chet Kendall, an orchard grower in North Ogden, used to be upset because the honeybees that pollinated his trees also stung his neighbors.
"When you moved those bees they were quite nasty. . . . I had quite a number of complaints from my neighbors," he said.So before the blossoms came out last spring, he telephoned the Bee Biology and Systematics Laboratory at Utah State University and "talked to them about their little blue bees," the blue orchard bees. Researchers agreed to help him and set up nesting areas at the orchard, monitoring the experiment.
They wanted to use a mix of honeybees and blue orchard bees, but Kendall talked them into going 100 percent with the smaller native variety, which are harder workers and not inclined to sting.
"It was a delight. These bees are so gentle and tame," he said.
His three small children would stand a few feet from the nesting area and watch the blue orchard bees fly in and out. Bees would land on the children but never attacked them. No neighbors complained.
Kendall and the orchard's previous owner went over their records, finding the most they had ever harvested in 10 or 12 years was about 16,000 pounds of cherries. "And this year, I harvested 32,500 pounds," he said.
The cherries were of the highest quality.
The only changes in the operation this year were the blue orchard bees - and the extra fertilizer and water needed because they had pollinated so many more cherries.