Certainly, bees are the essential organisms for the world. They keep millions of plants and animals alive. But don’t underestimate the tomatoes; I mean, they are juicy and tasty! So, what’s the relation between tomatoes and bees? Do the bees help pollinate tomatoes?
Bees for pollinating tomatoes
Bumble bees and mud bees help pollinate tomatoes, although tomatoes do not usually need pollinators to produce fruits. They are self-pollinators and can become futile with the help of wind. Pollinators ensure and enhance the tomato pollinating process.
Can you imagine a world without tomatoes? No tomatoes in salad, no tomato sauce, no tomato in curry! But without the bees, we might not have existed! But the surprising fact is that tomatoes do not rely on bees and pollinators to produce fruits.
Let’s understand a tomato flower better. The tomato flower has both female and male organs. There are no separate male and female flowers.
Many plants have male and female flowers and require active pollinators to make the female fruits fertile. What happens is that bees and butterflies sit on many different flowers to collect nectar. The tiny pollens attach to their legs and wings when they collect nectar.
When the pollinators visit another female flower, some pollen falls over the female flower. More specifically, on the female part of the flower. Only one pollen particle can make a flower fertile where there are millions of pollen in just one male flower.
The nectar is the reward for the pollinators for visiting the flowers. Some insects also come to eat pollens. The plants’ don’t mind as they also help the pollination.
This happens for the plants with separate male and female flowers, but tomatoes are different. They have no nectar for the bees and other insects. However, they do have other tactics. They have both male and female parts in each flower.
The pollen stays inside the male anther. And when the wind blows, the pollen comes out from the anther, reaches the female part, and completes fertilization.
The process is not always that easy. The pollination gets affected by the temperature and humidity. The pollens can not come out easily if the humidity is too high. Too low humidity also reduces the quality of pollens.
So, in those situations, pollinators can help to ensure the fatality of the tomato flowers. Who are the pollinators of tomato plants? There are not many types of bees or pollinators that actively pollinate tomatoes. Bumblebees and mud bees can pollinate tomatoes.
They come to the tomato flower to eat a specific part of the flower; the strong buzz from their wings enhances the pollination process. Other bees do not have enough wing power or simply do not have anything to do with a tomato flower.
Tomato plant pollination can be tricky in greenhouses. You can buy a bumble bee hive for your greenhouse, but we don’t recommend it as pollination is needed for a few weeks, and the bees will not find enough food inside the greenhouse.
So, what can you do? Can you hand pollinate the tomatoes? Yes, it is possible to hand-pollinate tomato flowers. Just give a gentle shake to your tomato plants in the afternoon. It will be enough to remove the pollen and complete the fertilization process. But when you have too many tomato plants, this technique is time-consuming.
Let’s find out if those types of bees can pollinate tomato plants.
Honeybees do not fertilize the tomato flowers; tomato flowers do not have any nectar. So honeybees simply do not come to the tomato flower.
Manson bees do not have enough wing power to blow the pollen of the tomato flowers.
Bumble bees are widely known for pollinating tomato plants. They have a big muscular body, and to fly with that body, they need large and powerful wings. When they come closer to eat tomato flower parts, the wind created by their wings completes the fertilization process.
Carpenter bees do not have enough wing power to remove the pollens from the tomatoes.
Do cherry tomatoes need bees to pollinate?
The pollination of cherry tomatoes happens similarly to regular tomatoes. That means bees and other pollinators are not compulsory for their pollination.
Most bees and insects do not have any role in pollination, but large and strong species of bees like bumble bees can help enhance their pollination.
But does that pollination matter? Well, it’s good to have some pollinators in your garden, so all the flower gets a chance to become fruit, enhancing production. But in normal conditions, most tomato plants, including cherry tomatoes, will not need pollinators’ to help to produce fruit.
But, the presence of pollinators may increase production a little. However, when the condition is bad for pollination, the environment may not help you as it does, and the production of tomatoes may reduce. In those conditions, bees can ensure most of the pollination of your tomato flowers.
This is a big issue when you are growing tomatoes inside a greenhouse. There is little wind and no pollinators inside the greenhouse to help your tomato flowers be pollinated.
In those conditions, you can hand pollinate your tomato plant by shaking. You can get a commercial plant vibrator too.
What kind of bees pollinate tomatoes?
There are not too many types of bees that pollinate tomatoes. Bees that can buzz pollinate can help pollinate your tomato plants.
Insects and bees cannot pollinate the flowers just by sitting on them; they need to blow wind with their wings to help the pollination. Here are the bees that can pollinate your tomato flowers.
Bumble bees look like an epic bees that just got evolved. But they are different than honey bees and easily distinguishable by their bigger body and black and yellow to orange color. They get attracted by the eatable part of the tomato flower.
When they land on tomato flowers, the wind helps the pollen to come out from the male part of the flower. This is how they help tomato plants pollinate.
They consist of helping pollinate the tomatoes. So if you see bumble bees in your garden, you can be sure they will return.
Mud bees are solitary bees, and they make nests in the mud. They also like to visit tomato flowers and can keep a role in pollinating. But they are less effective and consistent than the bumble bees.
Other bees and insects also visit the tomato flower, but they are ineffective and consistent enough to mention.
How to get bees to pollinate my tomatoes?
So, you want to get bumble bees in your tomato garden? It should not be that hard. And, when we talk about bees for tomato pollinating, we mainly talk about bumblebees. Bumblebees are very friendly and dolce.
Pollinators are not essential for growing tomatoes. They are primarily self-pollinators. But the presence of can helps the process. But if you want to take steps to attract bees in your garden. Here are the steps you can take.
Planting lots of flower plants will attract bees and other pollinators. Those are the flowers that attract bumble bees-
Virginia bluebells, hellebore, sunflowers, spring ephemerals, California poppies, bee balm, etc., help to attract bumble bees.
Don’t use insecticides:
Try to make your garden organic. Bees will not visit a garden with insecticide.
How do tomatoes get pollinated?
Well, it’s a personal question for the tomatoes. They may not like it! Joking apart, tomatoes have a unique pollination process.
Their pollination rate is high even without the presence of pollinators. Every tomato flower has a male and female organ, and they can efficiently pollinate by themself with the help of wind. Here are some of the ways they pollinate.
Pollens are stored in the male part of tomato flowers. The male organ has tiny pores. When the pollens are matured, a little wind or shaking will make the pollen come out.
The pollens are very light and small.
Wind can take them far away, but pollens do not need to go far away. The female part is literally a few centimeters away from the male organ. So, the pollination happens effortlessly.
Pollinators like bees and butterflies have a small role in the pollination of tomatoes. Their wing buzz help the pollen to come out from the male part.
With human help:
You can simply shake the tomato plant to ensure pollination. Do it every three days in the blooming season.
Tomatoes do not rely on pollinators for pollination. Although, Bumblebees and mud bees can help tomatoes pollinate. Honeybees and other bees do not have any role in tomato pollination. Wind helps them pollinate, while bees can slightly increase the pollination rate and production.