Lawrence F. London, Jr. - Venaura Farm - Chapel Hill, NC, USA
mailto:london@sunSITE.unc.edu  http://sunSITE.unc.edu/InterGarden
mailto:llondon@mathernet.com  http://mathernet.com/llondon

Welcome to the Home Page of Dave & Janice Green

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?

Pollination tips for Fruit & Vegetable Growers

Rate Your Pollination Service

Bee Attractants - Are they working yet?

A simple way to evaluate hive strength

Pollination Ideas for Beekeepers

Pollination tips for Beekeepers: Pollination Contracts

Varroa Mites with Photos - One of several reasons we are short of pollinators

A Mystery "Parasite?" Photo of "eggs" seen on a drone pupa.

Pollination and Pesticide Resources for Kids and Their Teachers

Primer on Bees and Pollination, by Janice D. Green

Our food supply is in danger, because our bees are in danger.

Links to other Pollination Resources

The Forgotten Pollinators

, 1996. New Book Stephen L. Buchmann and Gary Paul Nabhan. Describes pollinator ecology and emphasizes importance of pollination to biodiversity and agriculture. Explains that pollinator species are declining due to human impacts, including pesticides, trade agreements such as NAFTA and conversion of wildlands to monocultural croplands. Combines descriptions of ecological concepts with policy recommendations and calls for greater efforts to protect declining pollinator species. Appendix lists pollinators of major crop plants, pesticides most harmful to pollinators and related conservation and research organizations. 292 pp. US$25. Island Press, 1718 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20009; phone (202) 232-7933; fax (202) 234-1328; email lmagnino@islandpress.com.

A honeybee queen surrounded by her attendants

Yellow Jackets are NOT Bees!

Photos of a honeybee and a yellow jacket, for comparison.

Beekeeping FAQ

Lots of info on groups, periodicals and resources on beekeeping

Photos of some kinds of bees

McGregor's Files

(Including Bibliography):

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.)

Rating Pollination of some common crops

Graphics showing the effects of good pollination / poor pollination

Pesticide tips (Protecting Pollinators from Pesticide MIS-use)

Pesticides will not significantly harm bees, if properly used, but, when used in violation of the label directions, they can severely damage pollinator populations. Unfortunately, they often are misused.

Pesticide Labels and Bees What the Labels Do and Do Not Say - Often Misrepresented and Misunderstood -And Logical, Common Sense Implications

Two basic types of insecticides, and examples of their bee directions

Alternative Pollinators

Honeybees are our most important pollinators of commercial crops. They are generalists, visiting many different species of plants. Once started, a field worker tends to be loyal to the species started. They also recruit their sisters to the same plants. However honeybees are short-tongued, making them of little value for some deep flowers such as red clover. Honeybees will sometimes work tomatoes, eggplant and other related plants, but they are not reliable on these crops. There is increasing interest in bumblebees and some solitary bees as alternatives or supplements to honeybees. This is a rapidly growing field of research and practice.

Gardeners' Pollination Info

(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.)

Exotic Fruits -Notes from California Rare Fruit Growers on culture and pollination of lesser known fruits.

Meet the Old Drone and His Queen

Our Business Endeavors

(under construction)

When we began the web page, we had intentions of also using it to market our varietal honeys and candles. This has been several months, and we do not yet have our packing line up, nor our candle manufacturing. It seems that pollination, the loss of pollinators, the varroa mites, and pesticide misuse are all more important. We may starve before we get our markets up and going.

Ahem........ If you feel that this web site is offering a valuable service (and it has consumed a lot of our time), perhaps a donation might be a nice way to say thanks.......... (PO Box 1200, Hemingway SC 29554)

If you'd like to make an endowment, or you are director of a foundation -- let's talk! We dream of setting up an educational center.

Y'all come back now, heah!

And please let us know what you think. This page should be changing fast.