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Author Topic: Tomato Plants  (Read 3379 times)
kenglert
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« on: March 07, 2011, 06:00:19 PM »

Hi everyone.  I'm relatively new to beekeeping.  I'm going to start my second year.  I started from scratch last year and, unfortunately, didn't get any honey.  Anyway, I'm thinking about putting my hive in a yard with a lot of tomato plants.  I believe tomato plants are self pollinators so I don't know if the bees would provide a huge benefit to the tomato plants but will the bees get anything out of those plants?  The yard also has flowers and herbs so I think there would be plenty to feed on but I'm just not sure.  Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks
Kurt
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edward
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« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2011, 06:19:52 PM »

When i was a little boy I earn extra money by pollinating tomatoes in our green house with a small soft paint brush  rolleyes learning about the birds and the bees  rolleyes grin.

We had allot of nice tasty tomatoes  grin

So you probable don't have to bribe your kids to pollinate your tomatoes.

Herbs are usually good sources of nectar. What dose the rest of the neighborhood provide ?

The bees might get some pollen from the tomatoes but other plants are most likely more popular

mvh edward  tongue
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CAHighwind
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« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2011, 06:20:44 PM »

The guy I learned from before I started this adventure told me that bees don't really touch tomatoes, but that wasps did.  Since I don't ever grow them, I dunno for sure.  (...I have tried, but it always manages to snow at some point in Spring/Summer here and kills them). I bet plenty here though grow them and would have better insight.
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edward
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« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2011, 06:24:26 PM »

Wasps are predators and eat green flies that eat and destroy tomato plants.

Probably one of the only thing wasp are good for.  Wink

mvh edward  tongue
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iddee
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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2011, 06:45:19 PM »

Your yard may produce a cup of honey all summer long. The bees will fly out 2 miles or more to collect pollen. Don't worry too much what is in your yard.
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skatesailor
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« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2011, 06:47:26 PM »

I've never seen my bees on my tomatoes. Usually the bumblebees do the job which probably means they are too deep for honeybees. The only place I've seen my bees are on my squash flowers. The wasps and whitefaced hornets do a great job on pest control.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2011, 06:50:24 PM »

I was also under the impression that Bumble bees are the desired choice for pollinating tomato’s, I haven’t noticed honey bees on them very often.

http://pollinator.com/tomato.htm

The wasps are probably also after the green horned tomato worms (of the hawk moth family).  I lose a lot of my giant silk moths to those dang wasps. 

Let some broccoli go to flower.  The bees love that stuff.  As iddee says, they’ll get most of their nectar from outside your yard.
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sterling
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« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2011, 07:34:53 PM »

I have three hives right beside my tomato patch, I never saw a honeybee or a bumble bee on em all summer. That don't mean they didn't get on em, but they do like squash, cucumbers and cantelope.
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kenglert
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« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2011, 08:37:11 PM »

Thanks for all the answers.  I learn something new everyday!!  I'm confident they will do well in this environment, I just don't want the tenant to think the bees will pollinate her tomato plants and she'd have a bumper crop!
Thanks again.  I'm sure I'll be back with more elementary type questions, but that's the joy of learning, I guess.
Kurt
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Countryboy
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« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2011, 09:03:19 PM »

Most tomatoes have a closed flower.  I have never seen a honeybee on a tomato blossom with a closed flower.  Tomatoes with closed flowers are wind or buzz pollinated.  The vibrations of wind or a bumblebee buzzing shakes pollen from the anther to the stigma inside the flower.  The bee is never exposed to the pollen.  I would suspect that a honeybee isn't big enough to buzz hard enough to shake the pollen free.

There are a few varieties of tomatoes with an open blossom, and they are open pollinated.  I have seen a honeybee working an open tomato blossom before, but it is not common.  (You have to get into the heirloom varieties to find tomatoes with open blossoms, and even then most have closed flowers.)

I have put my hand on top of a tomato stake without looking, and got stung by a honeybee on my palm while in a tomato patch.

I believe people are thinking of the brachonid wasp that lays little white eggs on a tomato hornworm.  They sting the worm, which paralyzes it, and then lays its eggs.  When the wasp eggs hatch, they eat the tomato hornworm.
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Humanbeeing
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2011, 09:07:24 PM »

Maters have perfect flowers. The shaking motion from a bee will allow the pollen to dislodge and pollinate itself. There are a few Heirlooms that can be pollinated by bees though. I forgot which ones they are.
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brooksbeefarm
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« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2011, 10:11:44 AM »

I agree with countryboy, tomatoes and sweetcorn are wind pollinated. I truck patch (garden) and rarely ever see a bee on tomatoeo plants, but they work corn tossels hard. Jack
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Acebird
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« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2011, 03:58:04 PM »

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The yard also has flowers and herbs so I think there would be plenty to feed on but I'm just not sure.

Plant some borage.  You'll get more than a cup of honey.
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2011, 04:32:59 PM »

I agree with countryboy, tomatoes and sweetcorn are wind pollinated. I truck patch (garden) and rarely ever see a bee on tomatoeo plants, but they work corn tossels hard. Jack
I don't think that's what he said.  Tomatoes are not wind pollinated.  They are self pollinated. (Although I guess the wind could provide the motion to complete the self pollination, but wind does not carry pollen from one tomato plant to another.)  Corn is pollinated by wind, but bees do collect extruded fluid on the corn silks.  Not sure you would call that nectar because it's not produced for purpose of attracting pollinators.
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Countryboy
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« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2011, 11:24:22 PM »

Plant some borage.  You'll get more than a cup of honey.

How many plants do you recommend to plant?  It takes roughly 2 million flowers to produce one pound of honey.  How many flowers does a borage plant have?

Tomatoes are not wind pollinated.  They are self pollinated.


Tomatoes are not self pollinating, even though they are closed pollination.  They require something to shake the pollen from the anther to the stigma, such as wind or vibrations from a bee.  Tomatoes can't pollinate themself.  Folks growing tomatoes in greenhouses will sometimes release bumblebees to buzz pollinate the tomatoes, or they will use a vibrating wand to pollinate by hand.

Corn is pollinated by wind, but bees do collect extruded fluid on the corn silks.  Not sure you would call that nectar because it's not produced for purpose of attracting pollinators.

Bees do collect pollen from sweet corn.  This is not nectar.
Guttation fluid is minimal and I don't know of any instances of bees putting much effort into collecting guttation fluid.  If they did, I suspect it would be more as a water source, and not as a source of nectar.
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Acebird
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« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2011, 09:09:37 AM »

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How many plants do you recommend to plant?  It takes roughly 2 million flowers to produce one pound of honey.  How many flowers does a borage plant have?

Let’s see:

2mil / 1003 flowers per plant (I counted) = 1994 plants

1 acre = 4326 ft^2 @6 plants per ft^2 = 259584 plants per acre

plants/acre divided by plants/ pound = pounds/acre

1 acre = 130 pounds of honey

Take the bait now countryboy.  Tell us what you know.  You know you can’t resist.

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brooksbeefarm
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« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2011, 10:57:33 AM »

Countryboy, you said it better than i could, i've been truck gardening for thirty years, (thats not growing trucks from seed grin) i have twenty hives here at home within a few feet of my 3 acres of sweet corn. When it tossels the bees are all over it ,but don't ever remember seeing bees on the silks huh like countryboy said if they were it's for water on the silks or leaves. ( dew in the mourning or after a shower) As for borage, i plant it and catnip in outside rows where i plant cucumbers,this gives them something else to work that produce nectar, bees get very little from cucmbers and would starve if that was all they had to work.You can come up with all the number of plants and how many acres you plant, and say how much honey you will get. But the weather is the main factor that will determine that. Jack
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Scadsobees
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« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2011, 11:26:37 AM »

Honestly, unless you have extra time and money, don't worry about the forage around. 

The bees travel up to 2 miles(usually not that far though), that is a circle around your yard 4 miles diameter.  They do best with plants with a high blossom to foliage ratio, which most garden plants DON'T have, but most trees do (when they blossom) as well as most prairie/scrubland plants like clovers, star thistle etc.

PS, Please don't mind the bickering and nitpicking, it has been a long winter and some people don't handle cabin fever so well.
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Rick
sterling
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« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2011, 12:42:40 PM »

Honestly, unless you have extra time and money, don't worry about the forage around. 

The bees travel up to 2 miles(usually not that far though), that is a circle around your yard 4 miles diameter.  They do best with plants with a high blossom to foliage ratio, which most garden plants DON'T have, but most trees do (when they blossom) as well as most prairie/scrubland plants like clovers, star thistle etc.

PS, Please don't mind the bickering and nitpicking, it has been a long winter and some people don't handle cabin fever so well.
I agree with you that planting for bees is probably a waste of time and money, but it is nice to see your bees working plants you have in your own garden. I planted buckwheat in my little garden as a covercrop when my corn was picked last year and I enjoyed standing there watching and listening to the bees early mornings working  the buckwheat.
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Acebird
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« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2011, 01:14:02 PM »

No one plant is the answer.  Plant anything and everything.  You want blooms at different times.  If you are not going to move your hive to the food source like commercial beeks do you want your bees to have something through the whole season not just one feast.
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