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02 Jul

The importance of bees

As I blogged about a while back, we’ve planted some tomato plants in our backyard. Four of them, to be exact. And while they’ve grown pretty tall, two of them have a few small clusters of tomatoes growing, while two have…zero. El zippo. The tiny flowers bud, open, dry up, and fall off.

Hubby did a Goggle search, and apparently, while tomatoes are self-pollinating (they don’t need male/female versions), they won’t do it very successfully without bees buzzing around the flowers to shake the pollen around. So its become apparent that we don’t have any bees around here. Or at least, not any that visit our backyard. Oh sure, we have lots of paper wasps that like to buzz around the grass and make nests in the roof overhangs, but no bees. I suppose it’s possible that it’s too early for bees to be in the area - maybe most of the city plants that have flowers which bees would like bloom later in summer, and so the bees habitually come later. Or maybe they don’t like it this close to the salty Bay and it’s heavy breezes. Who knows…whatever the reasons, they won’t currently help our tomatoes.

According to one website’s info: “Although all current tomato cultivars/varieties are self-pollinated, the transfer of pollen to the stigma under greenhouse conditions may not occur in order to ensure complete pollination. Incomplete pollination results in poorly shaped fruit. If the flower blossoms are hand pollinated, flower vibration using a mechanical vibrator must be done daily based on a preplanned program, following the procedure needed to keep from damaging emerging fruit.”

Did you notice the part about hand pollination and mechanical “flower vibration?” Yes? Well, that’s what hubby has been considering doing. ie, he wants to try to make some kind of “flower vibrator.” Now, this may be horticulturally correct and scientifically sound, but you have to admit…it sounds hilarious. But if that’s what he wants to do, I’m sure he’ll find a way to do it. My husband likes projects like that. Assuming, of course, he has the time. He’s been fairly busy the past few weeks.

At any rate…bees are important. You may not like them at your picnic, but without them - and other insects that do similar work - entire crops of self-pollinating food plants would have to be “vibrated” all over the world. And the noise arising from such mass vibration could possibly be so huge, even if the cycles were so fast that we ourselves couldn’t hear the vibrations, that it might attract the notice of aliens - with better hearing - passing by in their spaceships…aliens that were hungry and looking for a new source of meat to farm…so be kind to bees and their ilk, for without them we might one day, in our folly to twist nature to our personal whims, become dinner ourselves. :D

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