Native Australian carpenter bees as a potential alternative to introducing bumble bees for tomato pollination in greenhouses
Katja Hogendoorn; Zeta Steen; Michael P Schwarz
There is commercial pressure to permit the introduction of bumble bees to mainland Australia for pollination of tomatoes in greenhouses. Bumble bees do not occur on mainland Australia, and there are indications that the recently introduced Bombus terrestris presents a threat to native ecosystems on Tasmania. In this pilot study, it was investigated whether the native green carpenter bees (Xylocopa (Lestis )) could be used as an alternative to bumble bees for tomato pollination. It is shown that Lestis females will visit and buzz pollinate flowers in a greenhouse and that tomatoes grown from Lestis pollinated flowers are on average heavier and contain more seeds than tomatoes that were not pollinated by Lestis. Therefore, there is potential to use Lestis for tomato pollination once methods for mass rearing the bees have been developed.