I have made it to Aix-en-Provence for the start of my sabbatical. It is cold now and the bees are still in their hives waiting for the first warm weather. Some almonds are blooming which mean the pollination season will soon be nigh.
I attended the annual meeting of the two GRAPPS (Groupement des Apiculteurs Pollinisateurs Professionels) Midi-Pyrenées and Mediterranée as they were briefed by Dr. Bernard Vaissiere and colleagues at the INRA (French equivalent of USDA ARS) research station in Avignon on pollination research. There is a lot of research going on with Kiwi fruit pollination. Although it requires buzz pollination, the fruit definitely is helped by honey bee foraging. The kiwi market has been really dominated by Italian growers; when French growers got into it, the price dropped considerably. Thus, kiwi growing is not an expanding enterprise any more in France.
Research on Pollinuse, a product here that is a pheromone based (nassanoff pheromone) attractant did not provide more significant bee activity or pollination increase on melons. They are usually not effective unless some “pollination problem” exists. Research on strawberry and pear pollination is also continuing. Finally, bee activity in greenhouses was discussed. It seems that there is no common factor here; some bees work really well in greenhouses, but others do not. Research is continuing.