What types of vegetables require pollinators other than honey bees-- such as, say, bumblebees? Or in other words, what types of flowers can honey bees NOT pollinate?
It's not that they can't pollinate them, it's that some plants don't need pollinators, for example, tomatoes, peppers, and other nightshade family plants. Cucurbits do need pollinators, and honeybees are the best ones I've seen, followed by beeflies as a close second. Bumblebees will visit tomato flowers, but they are not needed for pollination. Tomatoes and peppers are wind-pollinated. The pollen in the flower drops down with movement of the plants such as that caused by wind blowing or tapping the cages or plants with a stick.
One example of a plant that honey bees don't readily pollinate would be Red Clover. Bumblebees pollinate red clover and have been introduced in foreign countries (Australia I believe) to pollinate red clover.
As to tomatoes being primarily wind pollinated, I don't think so, but will check again. I have understood that tomatoes are "buzz pollinated" by primarily bumblebees, but other bees can work. The bumblers grab the flower and shake "buzz it". More to come when I have the time to read up. This is why I requested this forum, to prompt questions and answers, or possible answers.
Pollination ecology is new to me but extremely interesting. Looking at pollination ecology (including important economic crops ) through only the eyes of the honey bee is incredibly... well it misses the reality to say the least. Pollinators other than honey bees are essential, and their understanding is equally important as the honey bee.
I'm still on vacation for a few days, Later!!
Michael, be my guest and check on tomato pollination. The "buzzing" pollination is exactly what the wind or tapping the plants does. In fact, tomato seed producers envelope their flower clusters to prevent any insects from visiting the flowers in order to grow tomatoes that are true to species. That's how they get pure seed varieties. If bees or other insects visit the flowers, and there are other tomato varieties nearby, the tomatoes will be cross-pollinated. That's how they come up with hybridized species.
I don't mean to sound argumentative, but I am very familiar with vegetables and pollination.
Below is a little short explanation of tomato pollination from WSU:
Last edited by dragonfly; 07-03-2007 at 08:25 PM.
This is not a vegetable but since red clover has been mentioned and I have noticed honeybees on the flower heads this summer: "Honeybees can and should be used to increase pollination of red clover. The notion that honey bees do not pollinate red clover because it has deeper florets than other legumes is false". Howell Wheaton, Univ. MO. extension.
I also thought that honeybees did not frequent red clover for I have not seen them on the plants very much in the past. Maybe I didn't look close enough! This year they are working red clover pretty good and there is a nectar flow, but not a lot of the sweet clover is blooming around here; yet.
Sorry, let me try that again..
http://extension.missouri.edu/explor...ops/g04638.htm In the paragraph "producing seed"
Last edited by Oldbee; 07-03-2007 at 09:38 PM.
Reason: did not work first time
From what I've seen, honeybees will work red clover, but much prefer other species. I planted some red clover, but didn't keep it up due to lack of interest
dosen't sound argumentative in the least. What you said jives with what I read.
Insects are required for hybrid varieties, but they are self pollinating, wind will self pollinate outdoors, greenhouses require bees or mechanical vibrators.
"Crop Pollination by Bees, Delaplane, K. S., Mayer, D. F."
For Clover, (yea I guess its not a vegetable) the same book says, "Cage studies consistently show that honey bees can pollinate red clover, however the real issue is whether sufficent numbers of honey bees reliably occur under field conditions." So basically, honey bees tend to ignore it if they can get better nectar elsewhere, the book says both honey bees and bumble bees are the most important pollinators.
Other factors favorable to honey bees,
nectar welling up in flowers to sufficient height,
pollen collection from red clover without concern for nectar,
shorter corolla length varieties of red clover.