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View Full Version : Greenhouse bees - what type?



Swobee
09-01-2008, 08:38 AM
My neighboring booth person at Saturday's farmer's market owns several greenhouses. I asked her if she had feral bees or any hives nearby. "We buy bees from New York and have to reorder to replace them every 2-3 months. Honey bees won't work in a greenhouse setting, because they may exit through a ventilation fan grill and find outside flowers they prefer. Then they would tell their bee friends about those flowers and there goes your pollination. We use 'dumb' bees, because these don't leave the greenhouse."

I asked her if they were Mason Bees or what species they were. The look I got from her was like 'Hey, I'm just this pretty thing here selling veggies, don't ask me those kind of questions'. She said they came in a cardboard box with a 1" or so round hole - I'm guessing something like a nuc? So, what sort of bees are we talking here - Mason or some other type? She said their employee was stung several times, but attributed it to his cologne. He changed brands or quit using it and no more stings.

beemandan
09-01-2008, 09:49 AM
They're bumble bees. They are more effective in greenhouses and are sold as a small colony in a cardboard box. From what I've seen it appears to be a pretty inefficient system. On the other hand if you're going to grow fruits that require insect pollination in a greenhouse I suppose there aren't many choices.

Swobee
09-01-2008, 11:32 AM
Dan,

I doubt these are bumble bees, because she said they are the same size as a honey bee. When I mentioned bumblebees as great pollinators, she said theirs weren't bumbles. But I may have an opportunity to visit their greenhouses when I'm working in their area this thursday and verify what kind of insect they're using.

I've always wanted a greenhouse and the photos she showed of their hydroponic system intrigued me. Maybe I'll have an on-site report later this week.

moth
09-01-2008, 12:06 PM
There are numerous types of bumble bees. These are almost assuredly bumble bees as there is quite a growing business in supplying bumble bees to greenhouses. And it is actually very efficient as bumble bees, individually are much better pollinators than honey bees.

beemandan
09-01-2008, 12:18 PM
And it is actually very efficient as bumble bees, individually are much better pollinators than honey bees.

I wasn't referring to the bumble bees' ability to pollinate. The system of supplying bumble bees for greenhouse pollination appears quite inefficient. Getting bumble bees to reproduce in a managed system is very difficult. Some suppliers send people to the SE US in early spring to harvest queen bumble bees from the wild. It would seem that there would be a more efficient method to get greenhouse pollination.

dhood
09-01-2008, 02:45 PM
http://www.arbico-organics.com/1530002.html
This could be what she is talking about. I have seen people confuse small Bumblebees with honeybees, there usually just not interested enough about them to know the difference.

Swobee
09-01-2008, 06:27 PM
Thanks, guys. You're probably right with the bumble bees now that I saw the bumble cardboard hive. I can't wait to stop by later this week to see their set-up. We'd like to have our own small greenhouse someday. Since my back yard hive is so convenient and probably the best hive I've ever had, I'll let their staff handle the pollination.

This young couple are really nice folks and have a nice business goint. Their 3rd grade daughter kept me company during the farmers market. I think she's bored with veggies! The wife is a stay at home soccer mom who takes care of a lot of the day to day work in the greenhouses. He works for a wholesale food distributor. So what a deal- he already had all the regional contacts for grocery stores, restaurants, etc. While he calls on prospective clients, he delivers some of their own goods. Two birds, one stome. The hydroponic system is of his design and the photos look impressive.

Michael Bush
09-01-2008, 08:01 PM
Mason, leaf cutters etc are smaller than honey bees. I don't know how they do in a greenhouse.

alpha6
09-01-2008, 09:34 PM
And your wife is buying this whole..."No really I am going over to her place to see her bumblebees" thing. :rolleyes:

Hmmmmmm...maybe you're onto something. ;)

Swobee
09-02-2008, 07:27 AM
And your wife is buying this whole..."No really I am going over to her place to see her bumblebees" thing. :rolleyes:

Hmmmmmm...maybe you're onto something. ;)

Actually, the greenhouse owners want an energy audit at their old farm home and I'm only happy to oblige. Let's see: 45 miles from home; thursday early afternoon... the kids should be at school and hubby is on the road making sales calls. Well heck, I can't help it if I'm blessed with excellent timing and an opportunity (to see these bees and their greenhouse operation, that is)!

randydrivesabus
09-02-2008, 08:20 AM
this thread is going to be combined with the divorce thread

Swobee
09-05-2008, 03:21 PM
Confirmed yesterday - bumble bees.