Annual Report 2015: Mountain innovations and community practices

Pollination by Bees in Pakistan Improves Apple Quality 

Do you want larger, shapelier, brighter apples? Action research in villages in northwest Pakistan suggests that one way to improve apple production, both in yield and quality, is to pollinate with honeybees. 

Working with farmers in six villages in northern Chitral, researchers found that honeybee pollination increases the size of the apple, its shape, and its colour. 

Overall production was also much higher in orchards where bees were deployed intentionally to supplement other pollinating insects.  

The apple orchards of the Chitral Valley, at the border of Afghanistan’s narrow Wakhan Corridor, have been the focus of research aimed at learning more about the role of honeybees in pollination. The bees were placed in orchards when 10 to 15 per cent of the flowers had bloomed.

ICIMOD has also worked with Chitral beekeepers on honey production and improving the value chain for local honey. As it happens, apples flower early in the year, when pollen strength isn’t high enough for honey, so pollination services aren’t paired with honey production. But researchers and farmers are learning that even when honeybees aren’t making honey, they can have an important impact on livelihoods.