Bees, Birds and damaged grapes - what to do?

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we5inelgr

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Hi all,

I've got some Petite Sirah grapes in our backyard located in the greater Lodi AVA (California). Current BRIX is 23.5.

A few weeks ago, I noticed several damaged clusters with many berries on the ground. I thought it was birds, but can't say for certain because I didn't see them in the vines. I put some bird netting on the vines anyway, just in case, hoping to stop additional damage.

Today, when I was picking some grapes to take a Brix reading, I noticed many bee's in and around the damaged fruit.

I estimate that out of an estimated 120lbs of Petite Si rah fruit this season, about half is damaged to some degree (burst open, hollowed out). The other half is still intact and looks great. See pics for examples.

Additionally, we have some Cab Sauv in the same area, but I'm not able to see any bird and/or bee damage on any of them. Their current Brix is 22.

I've maintained the vines with sprays of Sulfur during the season. All vines were last sprayed with Sulfur about 2 & 1/2 weeks ago. However, we have had 2 rain days between then and now.

Bees on fruit.jpg Damaged clusters.jpg Undamaged clusters.jpg

I'd prefer not to have to pick right now, as I was hoping to get to ~25 Brix so I'm trying to figure out how to keep what's not damaged, intact until they can increase a few more Brix points.

Questions:

1. Is there anything I can do to prevent the bee's, or at least most of them, from continuing to feed on the grapes? I know they are after the rising sugars, just wondering if there is something that can be done to prevent them, or lure them away, from the grapes.

2. Is the fruit that is damaged something that I can still use? In other words, just press out what little may be left in them? Or are those clusters lost because they may contain contaminants since the skins were breached?

Thank you.
 
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wfournier

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Is damage spreading or limited to the grapes that were initially damaged? Birds wasps and hornets will damage grapes, in my experience honey bees (what I see in your pictures) go after grapes that are already damaged. Not an expert but to me the damaged fruit looks like bird damage (at least initially). The extent of the damage looks more like what I saw with birds than insects. I would try to avoid harvesting the damaged grapes personally, if there are undamaged parts of the cluster sure but I'm guessing anything in those open berries has started fermenting already.
 

NorCal

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Hi all,

I've got some Petite Sirah grapes in our backyard located in the greater Lodi AVA (California). Current BRIX is 23.5.

A few weeks ago, I noticed several damaged clusters with many berries on the ground. I thought it was birds, but can't say for certain because I didn't see them in the vines. I put some bird netting on the vines anyway, just in case, hoping to stop additional damage.

Today, when I was picking some grapes to take a Brix reading, I noticed many bee's in and around the damaged fruit.

I estimate that out of an estimated 120lbs of Petite Si rah fruit this season, about half is damaged to some degree (burst open, hollowed out). The other half is still intact and looks great. See pics for examples.

Additionally, we have some Cab Sauv in the same area, but I'm not able to see any bird and/or bee damage on any of them. Their current Brix is 22.

I've maintained the vines with sprays of Sulfur during the season. All vines were last sprayed with Sulfur about 2 & 1/2 weeks ago. However, we have had 2 rain days between then and now.

I'd prefer not to have to pick right now, as I was hoping to get to ~25 Brix so I'm trying to figure out how to keep what's not damaged, intact until they can increase a few more Brix points.

Questions:

1. Is there anything I can do to prevent the bee's, or at least most of them, from continuing to feed on the grapes? I know they are after the rising sugars, just wondering if there is something that can be done to prevent them, or lure them away, from the grapes.

2. Is the fruit that is damaged something that I can still use? In other words, just press out what little may be left in them? Or are those clusters lost because they may contain contaminants since the skins were breached?

Thank you.
I’ve made 23 brix Cab and struggled with the taste profile, I’d hold out if you can. I think PS is more forgiving, but I would try to hold off as well. The problem with the open berries is that they are bacteria factories and it would be better not to introduce them into your wine. I would clip them off before destemming or toss the cluster all together. I’d also be cautious to spray after version, as you may end up with sulfur in your must.
 

salcoco

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the problem is bird damage, initially they broke the skins on the grapes then the bees followed. you need better netting in the future. the mesh needs to be smaller in the order of 1/4 inch square. also net as soon as verison starts. do some research, I believe there is a spray to keep off the bees but donot have particulars.
 

we5inelgr

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Thank you all for the replies and information, I appreciate it! :b

I have 42 vines total right now, more that are 2nd leaf but not in play this year.

Yes, I believe the initial damage was from birds. I put the netting on way too late. It was a case of me not being around the vines for some time. When I did, I could smell fermentation happening and that's when I took a closer look and noticed the damage...and subsequently lots of bird chatter nearby. After putting the netting on, nearby bird chatter stopped.
Starting next year, the netting is going on at veraison.

My plan, then, is to:
1. Spray a little peppermint on the trunks (& not the clusters) to try and keeps the bee's out to buy another week or two. Apparently, they don't like the smell: https://www.tipsbulletin.com/natural-bee-repellent/
2. Harvest, hopefully when the brix is at, or closer to 25.
3. After picked, clip off any partially damaged clusters, and toss those that are totally compromised. Since I have a very limited quantity, every berry/cluster counts :D

Thanks again!
 

Intheswamp

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The honey bees are simply going after free sugar. They don't have the mandibles to tear a grape's skin or its flesh, all they can do is collect the juice that has been made available. Best wishes on salvaging what you can, hopefully it will turn out better than you think! :)
 
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