Watermellons and Honyebees

Dec 13, 2017

Credit SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The European honey bee industry in the United States is credited with totally or partially being responsible for the pollination of certain crops at a value of fifteen billion dollars. At a recent meeting of Certified Crop Advisors, Gilbert Miller, watermelon specialist at Clemson’s Edisto Research and Education Center, told us that watermelons are among crops completely dependent on pollinators for fruit set. Watermelons have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The male flowers are high in pollen which provides protein to raise young. Female flowers, however, are low in the sugary nectar that attracts insects, and for the seedless watermelons which are favored these days, it takes over two dozen bee visits for effective pollination to occur. For each acre of seedless watermelons, a grower must provide at least one healthy bee hive   – thirty thousand workers.