Turning our place into a bee sanctuary has paid off big-time!
In many years, I’ve not seen tomatoes set every blossom, as they have this year. There are few of the blossom clusters with a “hole” where there is no tomato forming.
I’ve been exulting each morning as I watch the bumblebees “buzzing” the flowers. As they taper off, and go to other flowers, they are replaced by little flying emeralds – the tiny, in-your-face green bees that happily gather the remnants the bumblebee left.
Not everyone is aware of the debt we owe to the bees. Pollination can be the limiting factor for many crops, including tomatoes. I have had years when I added compost, adjusted the pH with lime, fertilized, and carefully weeded the plants I set out, only to see many of the blossoms drop off, and the total crop wind up a sorry one.
Tomato flowers do not give the bees nectar, only pollen, but this pollen is gathered by the bees for the nutrition of their young. As they do so, they make a trade with the tomato plants by aiding the fertilization of the seeds that will make next year’s crop.
In another blog post, I’ll discuss the mechanisms of pollen release, which is different for tomatoes than most crops, as well as discuss the popular myth of “self pollinating” tomatoes.
But for now, I just simply want to rejoice and enjoy the fruits of the labors of my little friends.