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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    1,933

    Default Wild bees increase tomato pollination

    Hi,
    there was a conversation sometime back about tomato pollination and that pollinators for tomato was unneeded outdoors. However, only recently are some aspects of pollination ecology coming to light. Check out this study:

    Wild bee species increase tomato production and respond differently to surrounding land use in Northern California
    Biological Conservation, Volume 133, Issue 1, November 2006, Pages 81-87
    Sarah S. Greenleaf and Claire Kremen
    http://www.csus.edu/bios/faculty/gre...iol%20Cons.pdf
    Pollination provided by bees enhances the production of many crops. However, the contribution of wild bees remains unmeasured for many crops, and the effects of anthropogenic change on many bee species are unstudied. We experimentally investigated how pollination by wild bees affects tomato production in northern California. We found that wild bees substantially increase the production of field-grown tomato, a crop generally considered self-pollinating. Surveys of the bee community on 14 organic fields that varied in proximity to natural habitat showed that the primary bee visitors, Anthophora urbana Cresson and Bombus vosnesenskii Radoszkowski, were affected differently by land management practices. B. vosnesenskii was found primarily on farms proximate to natural habitats, but neither proximity to natural habitat nor tomato floral abundance, temperature, or year explained variation in the visitation rates of A. urbana. Natural habitat appears to increase B. vosnesenskii populations and should be preserved near farms. Additional research is needed to determine how to maintain A. urbana. Species-specific differences in dependency on natural habitats underscore the importance of considering the natural histories of individual bee species when projecting population trends of pollinators and designing management plans for pollination services. Thus, to maintain an entire bee community, multiple approaches, including maintaining natural habitat, should be implemented.
    More and more, researchers are increasing our understanding of the importance of wild populations of pollinating insects. Dr. Claire Kremen and Dr Sarah Greenleaf have done a great deal of work in this area.

    Dr. Claire Kremen
    http://ecnr.berkeley.edu/facPage/dispFP.php?I=610

    Dr Sarah Greenleaf
    http://www.csus.edu/bios/faculty/greenleaf/index.html
    Last edited by MichaelW; 09-11-2007 at 01:33 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Lincolnton Ga. USA.
    Posts
    1,725

    Default

    with 20+ hives on my home yard I have never seen a bee's on a tomato bloom, now they work beans, melons, cucumbers, okra and squash but I have never seen one on a tomato bloom, maybe I miss them but have watched on and off for a few years now.... good info, until I read this I never thought they worked tomato's.
    Ted

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    1,933

    Default

    Actually what you observed agrees with the study. Honey bees don't care about tomatoes. The Anthophorine Bee
    http://www.dbc.uci.edu/~pjbryant/bio...Anthophora.htm
    and a bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii
    http://pick4.pick.uga.edu/mp/20q?sea...ide=Bumblebees
    where the most common bee visitors.

    Bumblebees pollinate through "buzz pollination" or sonic resonance. Insects that don't usually do buzz pollination, such as the honey bee, can not easily access the pollen from flowers like tomatoes and therefore likely don't care much for it. There are a number of bees that buzz pollinate including all the bumble bees.

    here's a write up on buzz pollination
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buzz_pollination
    Last edited by MichaelW; 09-11-2007 at 12:10 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Cambria County, PA US
    Posts
    404

    Post Size does matter - Bee pollination of tomoatoes

    Isn't this also a case of "Size does matter" when it comes to tomatoes? I had been under the impression that a honeybee's probiscus (closest thing they have to a tongue) was too short to work tomato blossoms, and that bumblebees or some other large bee would in omst cases be required for pollination of a blossom this deep.

    I openly welcome objective calibration if this was in error...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    1,933

    Default

    tomatoes aren't known for producing nectar, which is another reason honey bees aren't interested. They do produce pollen though and bumblebees ability to buzz pollinate makes the pollen accessible.

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