If the bees are moved in beforehand, they may lock in on another blooming plant (like a weed) and ignore the apples once the apples start blooming. If you move the bees in once the bloom has started, you are better able to get the bees to lock in on the apples instead of the field of dandelions down the road.
This is a little OT but still relates to apples...what is the ratio of hives to apple trees required to ensure good pollination? Where I live there are quite a few apple and peach orchards and at some point if things work out with my bees I would like to try and offer some local small scale pollination services.
A fellow beekeeper told me about attending a conference somewhere where they TOTALLY debunked the idea of waiting for % of bloom.
I will see if I can get more info on that.
Several year ago I picked up a 304 hive contract that includes pears and cherries.
Year three they restructured their management and I was dealing with a different guy.
He called in the bees when there was not a single bloom on anything.
I did my best to explain common thought on bloom % but he would have none of it.
Both the pears and cherries set a record crop for the farm in over 80 years.
This year it happened again. He got all up in a tizzy for bees.
There were not enough blooms in the entire farm to make a bowl of salad!
Sooooo, I hauled in the bees.
The pears did not do so good this year, but they have cherries coming out their ears.
And let me add that this farm has blooming maple GROVES all around.
This of course has led me to be more than just a bit sceptical on the "wait until bloom %"
I am very interested in anything you can turn up on this subject.
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