I’ll yield to you on the point. I just know I’ve read quite a bit about bees going to preferential flowers over fruit trees.
Alan, I should have clarified peach set improves with pollinators, but don’t need pollinators for full fruit set (which is key for me).
It’s interesting Penn State is recommending renting hives for peach orchards. I have never heard of a peach grower renting hives. Obviously apple, almond, and other orchards do it, but I’ve never talked to another peach grower who rented hives, or heard a peach specialist talk about it, or read about it in one of the trade mags.
Here is what I wrote about peach pollination about a month ago on another thread.
"Peaches are pretty complicated when it comes to pollination. As you mention just about all peach varieties are self-pollinating. Some flowers are pollinated before they ever open up (peaches are capable of doing that). However, wind or pollinators, are generally needed to get the pollen from the anthers to the stigma for most of the flowers. Rain inhibits pollination, even though peaches are self-pollinating. High humidity inhibits the anthers from “rupturing” which is how they release pollen grains once the flowers open. Rain also increases blossom blight. And of course it keeps pollinators from working the flowers.
If there is wind, no pollinators are needed. They’ve done studies and caged peach flowers from pollinators. The trees will still set full crops as long as there is adequate wind. However, pollinators are helpful in pollinating peaches.
In years where there is bad weather for peach pollination, you see more button fruit. Those are fruit which get about the size of a big button, then stop growing and fall off. A lot of things can cause lots of button fruit. Inadequate pollination is one of them.
I’m not aware peaches produce bigger fruit if they are cross pollinated. Of course pome fruits like apples produce bigger fruit if they are pollinated adequately, but that’s because there is a higher seed count. More seeds give off more hormone to produce a bigger fruit. Peaches just have one seed, and either it is pollinated adequately, or not.
All that said, it’s rare that peaches aren’t pollinated adequately to produce a full crop. If the variety is productive, it will produce enough fruit set to set a full crop, that’s why peach producers don’t lease bee hives for their orchards, as apple growers do.
If the peach variety is a shy bearer, then I think poor pollination weather can come into play and compound the problem.
The length of viability of peach flowers depends on the temps. I don’t know how long they are viable at various temps. If you come across any info on that, please let me know.
Lastly, my observations are not so much with poor pollination being the problem. Rather spring frosts or poor bloom performance are the big issues which rob harvest poundage. Peach trees with a nice bloom and no frosts always produce full crops. It’s the trees which have few flowers, or cold frosty weather, which indicates trouble."