A tent of bird netting protects haskap berries from being consumed while still allowing bees to pollinate. (Contributed)

A tent of bird netting protects haskap berries from being consumed while still allowing bees to pollinate. (Contributed)

Vernon berry farm keeps bees buzzing

Organic haskap berries bloom thanks to busy little bumbles

Imagine standing in a field that is buzzing with the activity of bees.

“Yes, you can actually hear the buzzing all around you,” said Amber Stamm’ler, of what happens every April at Indigo Valley Farm.

The BX farm is a three-acre certified organic haskap berry farm in Vernon.

Haskaps are one of the earliest fruits to ripen in the Okanagan which means they are also one of the first to bloom. And rather than bring in honeybees, as many other fruit growers do, this farm is completely pollinated by wild bees.

“When you look closely at the blossoms, you will see many species of native bee species,” said Stamm’ler, who owns the Day Road farm with Kris Broadhead. “The Okanagan has over 350 of the 450 species of bees in B.C. In fact, there are more types of bees here than anywhere else in the country.”

And because April can still be cold and rainy, many of the bees that are working hard at Indigo Valley Farm, are in fact bumblebees. Bumblebees, unlike many other bee species, have internal thermoregulation that allows them to forage in cold temperatures.

“These determined fuzzballs are active even in the rain,” said Stamm’ler, who is a registered holistic nutritionist and a certified BioIndividual nutritional practitioner. “Haskap flowers can survive temperatures as cold as -7 C. Thus, a match made in heaven.”

Haskap leaf buds begin to open as soon as the snow melts. But before the leaves have fully emerged, the flowers begin to bloom. And as long as there are two compatible varieties of haskap bushes, cross-pollination can occur. Berries will begin to form soon after the little obscure creamy yellow flowers have dropped.

But the story does not end there. While the orchard is still buzzing with bee activity, at Indigo Valley Farm, the netting starts to go up. Covering three acres in a tent of bird netting is not an easy task for a family-run farm. So, this activity starts early and continues throughout the entire month of May.

Little by little, the panels are stretched over a wire grid system that spreads across the entire orchard on 10-foot-high posts. And just in time, because come early June, the berries, although not fully ripe, attract an equally determined creature of a different sort, the North American cedar waxwing.

“No one would think all this netting activity would deter the wonderful bees from dropping by. But rest assured, these insects fly under, over, through and around any obstacle in their way to pollinate the bushes and make the berries possible,” Stamm’ler said.

To repay them, Indigo Valley grows a crop free of chemicals of course.

“Because the use of pesticides is one of the main threats to our bee population and therefore our food system. In fact, one-third of what we eat is the direct result of bee pollination. And by supporting organic growers such as Indigo Valley Farm or growing your own chemical-free bee garden, you can also help to ensure our bee population will survive.”

Indigo Valley Farm’s haskap berries are available at Nature’s Fare throughout the Okanagan, the Vernon Farmer’s Market and directly from the farm.

READ MORE: Local farm ready to share new superfruit with Vernon

READ MORE: Okanagan camp to run this summer


@VernonNews
newsroom@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Agriculture

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The five graduating members of the Vernon-based Thompson Okanagan Lakers U18AAA girls hockey team – Jessica Engelbrecht (from left), Makenna Howe, Cheree Peters, Jayden Perpelitz, and Alexis Bishop – have all committed to collegiate hockey programs in Canada and the U.S. (Photo submitted)
Vernon-based hockey squad sends 5 to college ranks

Thompson Okanagan U18AAA Lakers players heading to Canadian and U.S. programs

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Police report outlines latest efforts to fight North Okanagan sex crimes

The local RCMP sex crimes unit has been involved in a number of investigations so far in 2021

Rutland Senior Secondary School. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Two Rutland schools exposed to COVID-19

Interior Health confirmed exposures at Rutland Senior Secondary and Pearson Road Elementary

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

Members of the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus sing in their cars, tuned into the radio, under the direction of Debbie Parmenter. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Vernon choir steers around COVID with ‘carbershop’ twist

Singers find a unique way to practice during pandemic restrictions

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

RCMP. (Black Press File)
Major Crimes called in after two bodies discovered near Penticton

A manhunt involving a police helicopter took place on May 10

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

Most Read