http://users.aol.com/pollinator/polpage1.html -- Lawrence F. London, Jr. - Venaura Farm - Chapel Hill, NC, USA mailto:london@sunSITE.unc.edu http://sunSITE.unc.edu/london mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.interpath.net/~london Piedmont Online http://sunSITE.unc.edu/piedmont piedmont@sunSITE.unc.edu
Have you tried a cantaloupe from your local supermarket, and found it totally tasteless? Does your garden produce cucumbers with wasp waists, or tails on the end? Are you sick of bags of tiny apples that taste starchy rather than sweet? How about watermelons that promise sweetness, but are flat tasting, and gas you up?
It could be you are experiencing the results of poor pollination. Many fruits cannot develop full flavor and filled out flesh, unless they are well pollinated. Some fruits, like peaches are easy to pollinate, and one visit by a bee can do the job.
But many require multiple visits. It makes little sense to speak of an apple blossom being "set," unless your quality standards are minimal. An apple with three seeds set, may hang through the June drop, if conditions are ideal, but it will never make a quality apple. We want to set 8 to 10 seeds.
Obviously it is more sensible to speak of seeds being set, than of flowers being set. And a good seed set usually requires multiple bee visits. Pollination of the seeds creates the chemicals that cause the flesh of the fruit to form, and create the sugars that indicate ripeness. For example, a half pollinated watermelon will never fully ripen. Each white seed represents potential that was never realized, both in terms of size and shape, and of sweetness. Symptoms of poor pollination are often unrecognized; the poor quality being blamed on weather or other factors. Here is the difference between good pollination and poor pollination with raspberries. The flower in the second case did not have enough bee visits. (Image from "Pollination for the Home Gardener" Dadant & Sons, Hamilton, IL 62341
In Grandpa's day, farms were small and pollinators were abundant. Grandpa was a major melon grower if he had more than a couple acres. He probably had some bee gums on the farm; perhaps his neighbors did too. And there may well have been a dozen wild hives in trees in the forest nearby.
Today , the wild honeybees are mostly gone, and kept honeybees are greatly reduced. His grandson may have several hundred acres of melons, but pesticide misuse, new parasites and diseases, development, clearcut logging, loss of forage plants, and poor honey markets have all but removed the pollinators.
A modern farmer must not assume that pollination of his fruits and vegetables will occur; he must manage pollination, just as he does fertility, or pest and disease control. A melon that will never make it to market ; one end is poorly pollinated -- a result of too few visits by a bee in the blossom
This web page is an attempt to help bring together practical pollination info for all those who are involved in horticulture. It is just a beginning, and we hope input from others will aid it to grow rapidly. Anything you'd like to see here?
Rate Your Pollination Service
Bee Attractants - Are they working yet?
Pollination tips for Beekeepers: Pollination Contracts
Hand Pollination(for crossing tomato varieties), an article by Keith Mueller, at North Carolina State.
Cucurbit Pollination Notes(including hand pollination) by Keith Mueller
Plant Breeding - Sylabus for undergrad course at McGill University
Dr. Malcolm T. Sanford, Florida's Apicultural Specialist on Vine Crop Pollination
Dr. Sanford on Citrus Pollination
A honeybee queen surrounded by her attendants
From Insect Pollination of Cultivated Crop Plants By S. E. McGregor, apiculturist Agriculture Handbook No. 496 Agricultural Research Service, USDA July 1976 (Out of Print - Public Domain)
(Note: McGregor's handbook often referred to as the "Pollination Bible" pulls together the pollination research to 1976, for which the agricultural community owes a great debt. Pollination conditions have changed so greatly in the 20 years since, that an update is badly needed.)
(Many of the files for commercial growers also are applicable for gardens. Especially of value would be the graphics showing effects of good pollination/poor pollination, and Keith Mueller's articles on hand pollination.)
Notes on Sweet Corn Pollination
Notes on Apple Pollination for Backyard Growers
Pollination for The Home Gardener by Howard Veatch
Meet the Old Drone and His Queen
Y'all come back now, heah!
And please let us know what you think. This page should be changing fast.