Growing Tomatoes in the Australian Desert With Salt Water and Solar Power

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This has got me thinking - how are the tomatoes being pollinated?? Bumble bees pollinate tomatoes - honey bees can’t as they cannot vibrate the flowers sufficiently to allow for the transfer of the pollen?

Apparently some varieties need to be pollinated and other not.

There is a company in Holland who have bumble bees in their polly tunnels to pollinate the tomatoes.


In Oz there are native bees to pollinate tomatoes although they are probably not as efficient as bumblebees. I don’t know the specifics of the SA desert operation but some glasshouse grown tomatoes are pollinated by hand using vibrating wands. Other glasshouses hive native bees within the structures to do the pollinating.

We don’t have bumblebees on the Australian mainland although they were secretly and illegally introduced into Tasmania. Bumblebees are such good pollinators that we would get a whole lot more species of invasive weeds if bumblebees arrived.


The blue banded native bee is an excellent pollinator for tomato crops. They are apparently used commercially for tomato pollination. A number of Australian pollinators use this buzz technique so it is very likely there will be something native around to do the job.
…Blue banded bees are one of a number of Australian native bees that can perform a special type of pollination called buzz pollination. This makes them ideal pollinators of crops such as tomatoes, kiwi fruit, eggplants and chilies. The honey bee, Apis mellifera, cannot buzz-pollinate…


Valli, if you were interested in Australian native bees this site might be of interest (you might already be aware of it):
Aussie Bee & the Australian Native Bee Research Centre
Aussie Bee website promotes the preservation and enjoyment of Australian native bees. It is run by Anne and Les Dollin of the Australian Native Bee Research Centre to showcase Australia’s 1,600 spectacular species of native bees.

Explore the fascinating stingless bees – Australia’s tiny native honeybees; discover our dazzling array of solitary bees – blue banded bees, teddy bear bees, leafcutters and many more; and browse our extensive range of articles, photos and videos on Australia’s native bees.


@SnowflakeHoney the closest I ever came to a bee in Australia growing up - walking past the fuchsia in the backyard, a bee flew in the side of my dress as I went past. Not sure who got the biggest fright - me or the bee.

Mum had just called me in as we were going to the dentist, must have been School Hols, and all she said was “Poor bee it will die now”.

I was brought up in Melbourne - I only ever knew of bees (honey bee), saw my first Bumble bee in UK visiting the gardens of one of the big historic houses - can’t remember which one - and remember being astonished at the size - That’s a bee?

it is only now in my 50’s, learning about the plight of bees and hearing of the Flow campaign that I founde out there were more than 2 types of bees in the world.

I never knew there were native bees let alone blue ones

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Breeding bumblebees for polytunnel pollination is a huge business. Most of our polytunnel crops from strawberries to blueberries to tomatoes are pollinated thus.

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But what gets me @Dee is they don’t even credit the bees as if they are not integral to the process

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I don’t suppose the Eastern European workers picking them get credit either.


Sad follow up on this - Brigit Strawbridge’s lecture yesterday

Apparently Bumble bees were specially breed for these types of green houses, one batch carried diseases in to the USA, so consequently, all the bees are destroyed at the end of pollination and not released into the wild now.

“13:00 Brigit Strawbridge - The Bee Team: why size matters and pollinator diversity is so important. The Jean Blaxland Memorial Lecture, sponsored by Mr R Blaxland” This video will be available in a few months as will all the NHS Lectures."

I had forgotten to report back to this thread. Sorry.

Out of interest, I emailed the outfit growing tomatoes in our South Oz desert. They replied to say they do hand pollinate their tomatoes.

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Of course you can’t release them into the wild. I know some growers who do though, who leave the nests to mature and let the :honeybee: disperse and others who throw working immature nests into an incinerator. It’s the price bees pay to enable us to eat all this soft fruit out of season. I don’t suppose people care. They don’t care about the lives of caged hens/pigs and cattle that never see the outside nor eat green grass so that we can have cheap milk or the male calves destroyed as soon as they draw their first wet breath. Munch munch munch the planet out of existence

@Dee I was glad to hear Brigit say when she is in schools she tells the kids it is not just fruits and veg that bees help but fodder eating animals need pollination for some of the crops/grasses they eat - many people forget that

Unfortunately I missed Ms Strawbridge’'s lecture ; I was arguing with the NBU over their proposed Asian Hornet policy. What grasses need insect pollination?

Alfalfa, Clover, Legumes

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Hi Dee, there’s an Aussie bloke named Matthew Evans trying to make a difference. He has a series of tv shows on SBS titled “For The Love Of Meat”. In one of the episodes he illustrates how pigs live out their lives. It’s a bit sad really. He’s on a mission to try & get changes made so that animals we eat live better lives.


Ah…not grass then, I thought I was missing something there.

That’s good Jeff. We can all play a part. One problem is that people have been foxed into thinking it’s not cheap to eat properly. Believe me, it is but kids don’t get taught to cook from scratch and to shop properly. Time, time, time…no time! Rubbish really, we should make time and i’t better spent living properly than wasting it on social media…but then I’m an old grump!!!


Probably pumpkins/squashes if used as cattle food as well.
And pigs will eat pretty much anything

Yes free range pigs can root around and eat everything. It’s a pity most pigs get to eat just pig concentrate largely made from fish meal :frowning:
Did you know that it is illegal to feed your hens kitchen waste in the uk? Blooming daft!


No I didn’t but then I don’t have chooks