Now polination crop for me. Potatoes

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Poly Hive

Queen Bee
Dec 4, 2008
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Scottish Borders
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12 and 18 Nucs
We had a couple of Canadian couples in yesterday and they told me that in Vancouver state there are pollination fees being paid for colonies on tatties as there is an increase in yield which justifies the payment.

No details given but I thought it was of interest given the amount of spuds grown in the UK.

From the American Journal of Potato Research:

Abstract The pollination behavior of bumblebees and honey bees was studied on potato flowers in screened enclosures and in the field. In enclosures, the domestic honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) and the bumblebee species,Bombus fervidus Fabricius, seemed to lack any “cue” to initiate visitation of the flowers. When honey was placed on a few flowers, visitation was stimulated. The honey bee tore and chewed at the anther cone to collect pollen, whileB. fervidus probed for nectar which was not present. Shortly afterward, both species ceased visitation and could not be induced to visit further, regardless of the honey stimulus. Neither species was effective as a pollinator.
It is concluded that neither species will be useful for large-scale crossing of potato populations. However, another bumblebee species,Bombus impatiens Cresson, is very effective in pollinating potatoes in the field. Manipulating the behavior of such indigenous populations of bumblebees is likely to be the most effective method of exploiting insect pollination in the potato.

Excitement over then.

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I have never ever seen a honey bee on a potato flower and lets face it, there are a lot of spuds in Ireland.
Did you do something to upset the Canadians PH?! Methinks they were pulling your leg.

This my territory, potatoes and pollination. Occasionally at work we have a need to mass pollinate a batch of plants and the commercial colonies of Bombus terrestris do this very well. They sit on the anther cone and do a high pitched 'peep' to vibrate the pollen out of the flowers, just as they do in tomatoes which *do* have an improved yield as a result. Most of the time our pollination needs are very precise so we have to do it manually (and electric toothbrushes are now the tool of choice, I kid you not).

Honeybees just never learned the buzz pollination trick, and so get nothing at all from potato flowers.

Gavin given a choice do you think the Bumblebee is a better polinator ?

I can remember a newsclip a while back regards Dutch imported bumble bees being used in a glasshouse.
Gavin given a choice do you think the Bumblebee is a better polinator ?

I can remember a newsclip a while back regards Dutch imported bumble bees being used in a glasshouse.

Depends. For flowers where they need buzz pollinated, definitely. Glasshouses and tunnels, yes, as honeybees don't like being enclosed but bumble bees can cope. Flowers that need strength to get in (field beans) then individually bumble bees are better but honeybees can be OK provided they are there in numbers. Open flowers in large fields - can't beat honeybees for strength of pollination force.

Bumble bees also pollinate in poorer (cooler, damper) conditions, but on the other hand an hour of sunshine in the middle of a spring day is enough to get the job done if there is a honeybee hive nearby.

There are concerns over the importation of these bumble bees, just as there are concerns over importing honeybees. Possibility of new diseases, risk of outcompeting or crossing with native types. In the case of bumble bees in commercial boxes they are fed honeybee collected pollen, and honeybees are sometimes used to get the colonies going. So, there is a real risk of introducing honeybee pathogens that way too.

all the best


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