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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Missouri Valley, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    82

    Default Pumpkins and honey production

    I had a local pumkin grower bombard me with honeybee questions. I managed to answer the majority questions he had but a few left me as puzzled as he was. I told him I would get him the answers he seeked. So here I am passing his questions on for us as a group to come up with answers.

    #1 Does the honey bee help the size and shape of a pumkin or just the shape and color?

    #2 What is the appropriate ratio for colonies to acres?

    #3 What are the benefits of the pumpkins to the bees as far as honey and pollen flows?

    #4 What is the average rate a pumpkin grower can be expected to pay per hive for pollination?

    Thank you to anyone that can shed some light on these qustions.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    McGraw,NY,USA
    Posts
    582

    Default

    I have a few hives on a pumpkin patch only about 12 acres. I have anywhere from 6 to 12 hives there at any given time.It is also a permant location for me as they sell my honey and I have hives there. I have asked many times as to if the farmer see a differance in the hives being there and each time he says yes they improve his pumpkins. He doesnt go into detail as exactly they do improve them. Last year after they had taken all the best pumpkins off for halloween there were lots of them left which he sold by the ton. He has also told me that the bees work them only in the morning and afternoon he hasnt seen a bee on them.The problem to some degree is that often other nectar/pollen sources are in bloom at the same time. I would put more there but this year a farmer wants me to put some bees on his buckwheat ( new yard ) so I`ll put some hives there as well, since it is my only access to buckwheat. Hopefully others will have more answers for ya ....Rick
    Turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Macon, GA USA
    Posts
    933

    Default

    1 -- I believe along with size and shape, it mostly helps with fruit set i.e. number of pumpkins -- unpollinated fruits abort. I have heard without a sufficient number of hives, you will get some pumpkins but it won't be at all profitable for the farmer.

    2 -- I would say 1 to 2 hives per acre, but you may need more if there is a competing nectar source nearby, like a sunflower patch.

    3 -- Not sure but they may be a decent source of pollen, but I'm not sure they get much nectar. On the other hand pumpkin honey might be a profitable marketing venture.

    4 -- Depends a lot on the area -- maybe $40 to $60. The fewer colonies, the more per colony.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    boulder Co
    Posts
    17

    Default Pumpkins

    I am a bee keeper and have a 15 acres of veggies and grow pumpkins in small quantities. My experience is that squash and pumpkins flowers open in the early morning before sunrise. The flower is often pollinate by a squash bee and bumble bees as well as honey bees. Each female flower needs to be visited 9 times to be adequately pollinated or at least that is the number that comes up a lot. I did not do the research personally. Depending on the weather the flowers close up around 10am and sometimes earlier. The flowers often trap the pollinating insect inside the flower for a while. We sell squash blossoms to high end restaurants and have to pick flowers by the dozen. We have to shake the various bees out of the flowers. If we go out too late the flowers are closed up and so we pick at sunrise. On rare occasions we have to pick closed flowers there are bees trapped in the flowers that are difficult to get out. On cloudy or rainy days the flowers stay open longer.




    #1 Does the honey bee help the size and shape of a pumkin or just the shape and color?

    Yes an under pollinated pumpkin will not form completely they have kind of a collapsed looking blossom end. We see this in zucchini that don't form correctly most commonly but when you harvest pumpkins I often notice some that did not form from a lack of pollination and we have 50 plus hives on 15 acres. For us if there is a cold morning squash don't get pollinated and we have funny shaped zucchini for a few days.

    #2 What is the appropriate ratio for colonies to acres?
    I think 2 colonies per acre is recommended but I would think between 1-2 would be adequate.

    #3 What are the benefits of the pumpkins to the bees as far as honey and pollen flows?
    I know bees collect pollen from the pumpkin and the way they stay in the flower so long I think they must be getting nectar but can't prove it. I don't think you could get a pumpkin honey.

    #4 What is the average rate a pumpkin grower can be expected to pay per hive for pollination?
    If you just brought hives for a few weeks I would think $50/hive or more but if it is your year round bee yard where the bees forage other areas most the year for most of their food I would not charge much if anything.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Woodlawn, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    330

    Default

    Here is a website that will help answer questions #2 and #3.
    http://www.ent.uga.edu/Bees/Pollinat...quirements.htm

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Murfreesboro, TN, USA
    Posts
    1,403

    Default

    Beeks were talking about pollen and nectar sources at a local meeting a few months ago. Pumpkins came up. While the pumpkin farmers love the bees for pollination the beeks were not too found of pumpkin fields. The older beeks stated that there is no nectar from pumpkins and the pollen is very inferior. Now, I am just repeating what I was told. It seems that they feel that their bees have to work too hard for basically no return for the bees themselves.

    There is a TN Ag website that contains the number of hives required for specific fruits per acre. I don't remember if there was any info on pumpkins but I do remember the info for blueberries. The website stated that 4 hives per acre are needed!
    De Colores,
    Ken

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,121

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by IABeeMan View Post
    #3 What are the benefits of the pumpkins to the bees as far as honey and pollen flows?
    I know beekeepers who pollinate pumpkins. They all say the same thing. Their bees go downhill when on pumpkins. I believe I've read that the pollen isn't very nitritious. Probably doesn't matter if you're talking a small field of Pumpkins in an area of good nutrition for the bees. But, where the pumpkins are one of the major sources of pollen, then you'll probably see your bees decline.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,034

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    I know beekeepers who pollinate pumpkins. They all say the same thing. Their bees go downhill when on pumpkins.
    At our State beekeepers meeting a few weeks ago there were comments made by some of the commerical beeks about getting out of vine crops. The pollination fees just weren't covering the losses.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Fresno California USA
    Posts
    2,496

    Default Voices of experience

    They go down in pollination, yes. Also it sure is hard to kill the aphids under those big leaves, guess we'll have to spray again.

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