[QUOTE=Troy;338093]I am a sideline beekeeper in the Orlando area. I saw several folks talking about watermelon and pollination in FL.
I have only concentrated on honey so far, but my bees are sitting idle right now. If I could feed them and get them pollinating a crop, right now, that would be great - at least for them, and for the farmer.
I was doing a little web research today and I found this information on watermelons. I though you may bee interested. This is from the University of Georgia, go daws!
To read the whole article go to Tillie blog in the bee soruce forum and click on her web blog sight and then scroll down to the University of Georgia link. This UG link may be useful to keep handy to refer beginners to.
Watermelon plants have separate male and female flowers. The pollen is sticky and not blown by wind, so insect pollination is necessary to transfer pollen to receptive female stigmas. In the absence of superior food sources, bees readily visit watermelon blossoms for nectar and pollen. However, the overall density of flowers is low enough that bees rarely collect a surplus. As with other cucurbits, watermelon flowers open early in morning and close in the afternoon, so early morning (10 AM or earlier) bee activity is important. Not surprisingly, the stigma is most receptive in the morning. Each stigma needs about 1000 grains of evenly-placed pollen to develop a well-shaped, large fruit. This corresponds to about eight bee visits per flower.
Seedless, triploid watermelon varieties also require pollination. Pollination triggers seed formation and fruit development, but seeds abort shortly thereafter.
Recommended Bee Populations for Watermelon
No. of honey bee hives/acre Reference
2, 3 Atkins & others 1979
1 Hughes & others 1982
0.2, 0.5, 1 McGregor 1976
1, 2 USDA 1986
1.3 Literature average
1 bee per 100 flowers McGregor 1976