This study examined the use of honey bees, Apis mellifera L., to supplement bumble bee, Bombus spp., pollination in commercial tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum Miller, greenhouses in Western Canada. Honey bee colonies were brought into greenhouses already containing bumble bees and left for 1 wk to acclimatize. The following week, counts of honey and bumble bees foraging and flying throughout the greenhouse were conducted three times per day, and tomato flowers open during honey bee pollination were marked for later fruit harvest. The same counts and flower-marking also were done before and after the presence of honey bees to determine the background level of bumble bee pollination. Overall, tomato size was not affected by the addition of honey bees, but in one greenhouse significantly larger tomatoes were produced with honey bees present compared with bumble bees alone. In that greenhouse, honey bee foraging was greater than in the other greenhouses. Honey bees generally foraged within 100 m of their colony in all greenhouses. Our study invites further research to examine the use of honey bees with reduced levels of bumble bees, or as sole pollinators of greenhouse tomatoes. We also make specific recommendations for how honey bees can best be managed in greenhouses.
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Vol. 97 • No. 2