How To Attract Bees to Vegetable Garden?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by MsPacMan, May 12, 2005.

  1. MsPacMan

    MsPacMan Well-Known Member

    Dec 30, 2004
    I figure on cross posting this here and in the Beekeeping Forum. Hope you do not mind.

    I have 10 acres that are almost completely without trees, except for about 20 fruit trees that I planted last November in a back corner of my land.

    I have a 50 by 75 foot garden area -- actually it is a number of raised beds, separated by natural grass walkways. This garden is right in the center of our property, and is completely alone and out in the open.

    Maybe it's because there are no trees around. But anyway, I have had tomatoes with litttle yellow flowers on them for a couple of weeks, now. They are doing great EXECPT that I never see any bees around the garden.

    And true to form, none of my tomatoes have been able to get past the flowering stage because there are no bees to help in this process.

    What do I do?
  2. Kazahleenah

    Kazahleenah Disgruntled citizen

    Nov 3, 2004
    Northeast Michigan zone 4b
    There are flowers you can plant that attract bees. They like yellow flowers, marigolds perhaps? Some other flowers are known bee attractors. I just can't help wonder if that's the problem though.

    Best of luck!!


  3. Mutti

    Mutti Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sep 7, 2002
    Bees will fly up to 5 miles so that probably isn't your problem...and lots of other insects pollinate...ants,moths,butterflies,mason bees, bumblebees. Even without your own colonies of bees fruit trees will get pollinated. There are actually types of plants honey bees can't pollinate d/t length of their tongue. Could you plant some type of clover in your grass paths,like dutch clover that honey bees love. How about becoming a beekeeper yourself??? Bees are declining in numbers drastically and you could become part of the solution. There are alot of herb plants that bees borage,white sage,lemon balm(heavy yielder),hyssop,creeping thyme,lemon mint--all attractive in a garden. I scatter herb plants among my raised beds. DEE
    LittleRedHen likes this.
  4. Queen Bee

    Queen Bee Well-Known Member Supporter

    Apr 6, 2004
    If there are no bees around --you'll have to provide the bees yourself. Ask the county ag agent about a beekeeper who would bring a hive of bees to your property or about starting your own hives.. It's wonderful fun and our garden is grand now that I have bees...
  5. MoBarger

    MoBarger Goat's Milk soap for sale

    Mar 5, 2003
    upstate NY
    Bees love buckwheat too!
  6. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Guest

    Tomatoes do not need bees to pollinate them, they pollinate themselves all by themselves so long as the wind blows once in a while. Bees and other insects do sometimes get into tomato blossoms, but they are not particularly attractive to them.

    The more types of flowers that you have in a given area that are attractive to bees the greater the chance you're going to attract bees. I'd try planting things like borage, buckwheat and any of a number of other plants that are highly attractive to bees close to your vegetable garden and fruit trees.

    At the same time, however, if you're in serious farming country where there is much pesticide spraying going on there simply may not be any honeybees or very much of any other sort of pollination insects left. The commercial orchardists and truck farmers growing crops requiring bee pollination usually hire in the hives they need to get the job done and time their pesticide applications accordingly.

    Txsteader and semimoonman like this.
  7. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

    Nov 1, 2002
    Plant some basil. Seriously, it flowers profusely from a very young age, and doesn't stop flowering until it dies, and the bees just LOVE it and they'll travel a long way to get to it. Lemon Balm, when in flower, is also very attractive to bees - another name for it is Bee Balm.
  8. Snoho_Raven

    Snoho_Raven Member

    Jul 14, 2014
    Hand pollinate your tomatoes! Just touch each blossom going back and forth between blossoms and plants. This works really well so long as you don't have acres of tomatoes :)
  9. unioncreek

    unioncreek Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 18, 2002
    SE Washington
    My Grandma and Mom both hand pollinated their tomato plants. They would roll the blosom between their thumb and fore finger. They always had a lot of tomatoes, now I do the same thing. Part of the reason tomatoes have trouble setting fruit is the new varieties don't produce pollen like the old varieties did.

  10. CJ

    CJ Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    The Ozarks
    Herbs! I keep pots and pots of herbs that I let go to flower, simply because the bees love them. Bee balm, any mint, oregano, thyme, they are nuts for them. Of course fruit trees and berries are great as well.
  11. imthedude

    imthedude Well-Known Member

    Jun 7, 2011
    Washington Co., Arkansas
    i have 6 hives at my house and 3 hives at other places. the only thing in my garden that i regularly see my bees working are the cukes, squashes, tomatillos, and small fruit. they don't work tomatoes, beans, peppers, etc. if you let your broccoli flower, they will work that hard.

    if you have herbs around and let them flower, the bees will work those heavily, esp lavender, oregano, mint, and thyme.
  12. chickenista

    chickenista Original recipe! Supporter

    Mar 24, 2007
    NC foothills
    Plant lots of stuff!
    Herbs are great and so are wildflowers and some shrubs, like butterfly bush and abelia. Abelia is awesome!
    And I have herbs and flowers all through my veggie garden; catnip, lemon balm, hyssop, basils etc..
    They draw all of the pollinators in, not just the honeybees or bumbles.

    Oh, but try not to get any plants from the big box stores like Wal-Mart, Lowe's etc..
    they use a systemic neonicotinoid that is harmful to your pollinators year after year.
    semimoonman and Snoho_Raven like this.
  13. geo in mi

    geo in mi Well-Known Member Supporter

    Nov 14, 2008
    You should be more concerned about the lack of bees when it comes to your fruit trees, because your tomatoes don't have to rely on the bees alone to be pollinated. In fact, tomatoes are nearly always self-pollinated, with some rare exceptions. That's because mostly all pollination happens inside a sealed stigma/anther cone. This is also why tomatoes usually don't cross-pollinate.

    I believe you may be jumping to a wrong conclusion: no bees, no tomato blossoms, thus, no tomato fruit.

    Do some Sherlock Holems work first. If absolutely none of your blossoms survive, then you have other problems. Use a magnifying glass first to look at a blossom. Nearly all tomato blossoms pollinate inside the stigma/anther cone; all that is needed is a bit of vibration from the wind, or what is called sonification(buzzing by a bee, maybe even a bumblebee), to make the pollen fill the sealed space--sort of like a Christmas snow globe that you shake to stir up the snowflakes.....

    In some cases the stigma naturally grows beyond the anther and then, maybe... it needs some extra wind or vibration, or an insect to crawl on it and transfer the pollen,,but these are rare cases, and you should look to see if that is happening or not. You may need to switch to another variety that has a naturally shorter stigma.

    There are other causes for blossom drop--one is the temperature. If it is too cold, or too hot, for an extended time, it will happen. Another is lack of nutrients, or moisture, which could even prevent flower development. A malnourished plant will be more likely to have multiple problems and diseases--just like animals and humans.

    A lot of others have given you lots of ideas about attracting bees to your property. Yes, the population loss of honeybees has declined, and that's deplorable, but for your tomatoes, it doesn't matter so much as for other plants.

  14. LittleRedHen

    LittleRedHen Well-Known Member Supporter

    Apr 26, 2006
    Zone 6A
    I haven't seen many honeybees this year but when I see them, they are coming in for my clover