Most apples need pollen from a different variety of apple to set fruit. This process is called “cross-pollination” and orchardists work hard to ensure compatible varieties are planted near one another so the apples will be juicy and sweet.
One sunny spring day, a honey bee was buzzing throughout Mr. Nystrom’s orchard, collecting nectar and cross-pollinating apple blossoms along the way. The honey bee stopped at an unknown tree and collected nectar and pollen from a blossom. As the day went on, the little honey bee passed that pollen onto a Honeycrisp tree. Little did this bee know its cross-pollination between a Honeycrisp and an unknown variety had just resulted in the beloved SugarBee® apple we know and enjoy today!
Months later, when apples of every shape and color began to grow, Mr. Nystrom discovered this all new variety of apple in his orchard! It was large and round, with bright red and yellow coloring. He took a bite…. “Yum!” The apple had a crispy firm texture and was unbelievably sugar-sweet. He was thrilled and spread word far and wide of a new delicious apple variety, which he then called B-51, commenting again and again on its sweet and crunchy nature.
Over a thousand miles away in the elevated orchards of Washington state, word of this sweet new apple got to growers at Chelan Fruit Cooperative and Gebbers Farms. After speaking with their marketing company, Chelan Fresh, everyone agreed “we must have this apple!” Thanks to Central Washington’s warm summer days, cool evening breezes and Yakima County’s fertile valleys, Chelan Fresh orchards offer the ideal growing conditions for the apple. In 2013 Mr. Nystrom agreed they were the perfect candidates to grow B-51 (later patented as CN-121).
Because this apple formed from the cross-pollination of a honey bee and has a sugary-sweet flavor, the team at Chelan Fresh gave B-51 an official (and very fitting) name: SugarBee®!