Bumblebees play a vital role in achieving optimal pollination results for tomato crops. If you are seeking to optimize your crop's pollination process and achieve exceptional yields, harnessing the power of commercial bumblebees can be a game-changer. Bumblebees are efficient and reliable pollinators, and when used strategically in combination with the right practices, they can significantly enhance fruit set and quality. In this guide, we will provide you with valuable insights, step-by-step instructions, and expert tips on how to successfully integrate commercial bumblebees into your tomato cultivation. Let's delve into the world of bumblebee-assisted pollination and unlock the secrets to maximize your tomato harvest. Need our tips for hive placement? Download our poster here.
Tips for tomato pollination
Buzz pollination and bite marks
To initiate pollination, bumblebees employ a technique called buzz pollination. They grasp onto the flower and generate vibrations, aiding in the transfer of pollen. Within one to four hours, the bumblebee's jaw imprints on the flower, commonly known as bite marks, turn brown. These bite marks serve as indicators to assess the bumblebees' pollination activity. A single visit by a bumblebee is typically sufficient for successful pollination. Fruit setting occurs once a flower has been adequately pollinated.
Pollination should occur before the flower closes. The duration of flower openness varies between one to three days, depending on environmental conditions. To evaluate pollination progress, collect approximately 20 closed flowers from different areas. It is essential that all closed flowers exhibit bite marks. Closed flowers offer a precise representation of the pollination status. Flowers open for more than one day generally display one to five bite marks.
Regularly monitor the bumblebees' performance by checking their work at least once every two days. When the number of bite marks diminishes to only one or two per flower, it is advisable to introduce a new bumblebee hive.
Temperature and humidity considerations
Bumblebees thrive within specific temperature and humidity ranges. They are most active between 8 °C and 28 °C, with a gradual decrease in activity beyond 28 °C. It is important to provide suitable conditions for the bumblebees, avoiding extreme temperatures that can hinder their activity. Additionally, maintaining a relative humidity between 50% and 80% ensures optimal pollen release, while extremes outside this range can impede fruit setting.
Maintaining plant health
To maximize pollination success, it is essential to prioritize the health of your tomato plants. Various factors, such as water shortage, imbalanced nutrition, viruses, diseases, pests, extreme growth, climate conditions, and chemical influences, can impact plant health and reduce the number of healthy flowers. Regular monitoring, appropriate care, and prompt action against potential risks contribute to a healthy crop and improved pollination outcomes.
Positioning and visibility of hives
To facilitate effective communication between bumblebees and humans, it is crucial to position the hive in a visible location. This allows both the bumblebees and people to easily identify and access the hive. Moreover, ensure that the hive is placed horizontally for optimal functioning.
Protection against elements
Protecting the hive from adverse weather conditions is essential for maintaining its efficiency. Shielding the hive against condensation and rainwater will help prevent damage and ensure the well-being of the bumblebee colony. Proper hive maintenance and regular checks are recommended to safeguard against any potential risks.
Hive placement and quantity
For optimal performance, avoid clustering more than three hives together. It is important to position the hives in such a way that the hive exits point in different directions, away from the crop. This arrangement allows for efficient movement and prevents overcrowding while promoting effective pollination.
Exercise caution when using pesticides before and during flowering. Some pesticides can be harmful for bumblebees and may also have long-term effects. Discuss the matter with your advisor alternatively consult our side–effects app.
By implementing the guidelines outlined above, you can optimize bumblebee pollination for your tomato crops. Providing suitable hive positioning, protection against adverse weather conditions, and maintaining the right environmental factors will contribute to the well-being of the bumblebee colony and enhance pollination results.