Effectiveness of Bumblebee Pollination in Anti-Frost Heated Tomato Greenhouses in the Mediterranean Basin*


Abstract: Turkey has 22,000 ha of greenhouse area, and about 51% of vegetable greenhouses are used for tomato production. In Mediterranean countries generally greenhouses are not regularly heated at optimal levels. Fruity vegetables in winter have a problem of insufficient pollination due to low temperatures and isolated atmosphere. The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) pollination in tomato production in anti-frost heated greenhouses in the Mediterranean basin. Three fruit set applications, namely bumblebee, vibration and growth regulator, were used. Bumblebee pollination was compared to 2 other techniques that are commonly used in tomato greenhouses. The tomato varieties F 144, P 198, F 248 and Vivia were grown during the winter cultivation period. The heating system of the greenhouses was only used in the case of emergencies to maintain the temperature above 5 °C. The results showed that the bumblebee can be an efficient pollinator of tomato flowers in anti-frost heated greenhouses during winter in the Mediterranean basin. Bumblebee pollination increased the yield by 90% and 61% over vibration and growth regulator applications. Bumblebee pollinated tomato fruits were heavier than vibrated and growth regulator applied ones by 41% and 9%, respectively. In conclusion, bumblebee pollination should be used instead of growth regulators and vibration for increased yield and more marketable fruits.

Keywords: Lycopersicon esculentum, greenhouse cultivation, Bombus terrestris, pollination, fruit set

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