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Author Topic: Pumpkins and honey production  (Read 913 times)

Offline IABeeMan

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Pumpkins and honey production
« on: April 09, 2009, 09:07:28 PM »
 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.

Offline BoBn

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Re: Pumpkins and honey production
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2009, 09:29:01 PM »
In my garden, honeybees make a noticeable difference in fruit set for all of cucurbits (squash, pumpkins, melons and cukes).   The male and female flowers are on separate stalks and need to be insect pollinated unlike tomatoes, peas, beans and corn that are mostly wind pollinated.  More developing seeds can increase the size of the fruit.  I don't think that the nectar value is very significant, but there is lots of pollen in good years.
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Pumpkins and honey production
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2009, 10:22:42 PM »
>#1 Does the honey bee help the size and shape of a pumkin or just the shape and color?

I don't know but I have two pumpkin growers who desperately want my bees there.  They do get more pumpkins.  Since a pumpkin has many seeds in it I'm guessing it does improve the quality in some way.

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

Mine are there all the time.  I would guess if you brought them in while the pumpkins were blooming that a hive per acre would do well.

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

None that I know of.  They provide a small amount of pollen that could probably be just as easily gotten somewhere else and a small amount of nectar that could probably be beat somewhere else.

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

Mine are both permanent locations.  One farmer goes to a lot of trouble to make sure my bees do well, like not cutting his alfalfa and not spraying his soybeans.  The bees prosper there and he actually pays me a little as an incentive as well.  But not really much.  The other wants me to give him some honey.  :)  I haven't ever made any honey on his place... and have lost a few hives.
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Offline TuggerJoe

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Re: Pumpkins and honey production
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2009, 12:42:41 AM »
You can manually pollinate pumpkins because of the male female flowers. Genetics have most of the role of determining what the pumpkin will come out looking like. Not how well it was pollinated. Although if it is not pollinated well it will not develop correctly and be distorted, or abort. By the way I grow giant pumpkins.

Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: Pumpkins and honey production
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2009, 02:35:08 AM »
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?

Yes, the more times an individual flower is visited by bees the more seeds will be fertilzed and the fruit set will be large, more symetrical to type.

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

Depends on the crop and the bloom period of the crop.  a short bloom requires more bees for a good fruit set than does a crop with an extended bloom period.  a general rule is 2-4 colonies per acre.

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

Pumpkins have an average amount of nector but are one of the better pollen sources there is along with squash, cucumbers, goards, and other trumpet shaped flowers on fruits and vegetables.

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

Pumpkins and other fruit and vegetable crops do not bring in the $150.00 per hive that Almonds do, however, a pollen fee of between $50.00 and $80.00 is common.  It depends on the type of crop, the growing density in a given area, and the COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) of the area.

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

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Re: Pumpkins and honey production
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2009, 07:31:17 AM »
... and have lost a few hives.
At our last State beekeepers meeting, there were some comments made by commercial beekeepers about getting out of vine crops because they were losing too many colonies. They said that colonies placed for pollination in pumpkins, cukes, melons, etc ended up being weak and were often dead within the year. They had reached a point where the pollination fees didn't cover loses.

I don't know if this is widespread or not. Obviously there's a host of questions that could be asked, but for the guys who make their living on bees, what mattered was the bottom line.

Offline Scadsobees

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Re: Pumpkins and honey production
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2009, 09:24:48 AM »
I don't have any specific answers, but the others have covered it pretty well.

From what I've heard, typically pumpkin or cucurbit pollination is typically more $$ per hive rental.  Cucurbits have a very sparse flower density so depending on the surrounding area the hives may not do well.  I haven't heard of many hives in pumpkin pollination that really do very well.

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Offline Romahawk

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Re: Pumpkins and honey production
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2009, 10:40:53 AM »
I have a friend who grows Giant Pumpkins every year and enters them in contests. He hand pollinates for best results and covers his flowers with plastic bags to keep insects out. He becomes a loony if he finds out a honeybee has breached his anti insect pollination defense shield.  :-D
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Offline jdpro5010

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Re: Pumpkins and honey production
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2009, 11:24:14 AM »
In our area 30$ to 50$ is all most people are getting for pollination.  I have also been told that the vine plants such as pumpkins and cukes are very hard on the colonies nutrion wise as far as amounts of and quality of pollen.