Friday, March 04, 2011

(Photo courtesy of Crown Bees)

Getting prepared for the season:
Pollinating with Mason Bees

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

After a long winter hiatus, I am happy to post for the first time in 2011! There are a couple of things that I'd like write about.

Many growers have voiced their concerns about the lack of fruiting of their giant pumpkin vines in the past. That is, they grow a beautiful green vine, flowers appear, and then: Nada, nichts, nothing. Or, at the most, a small golf ball sized fruit, that then withers and dies away. One possible cause for these conditions is lack of pollinators or an inadequate pollination in the latter case.

So, I have a potential solution: Mason bees. Yes, you can purchase some Mason bees, store them in your refrigerator until the weather is regularly 55 degrees and then place them outside to emerge and begin pollination. They work longer hours than traditional European bees, and more efficient pollinators as well due to certain physiological traits.

I have just purchased some bees and the requisite house and cardboard tubes from Dave, at:, and so far, everything looks great. He still has some bees available for this season (many other suppliers have sold all of their inventories, I checked) so if you would like to add a measure of certainty to this year's growing efforts, order your bees now!

Finally, after the indescribable agony of growing a giant pumpkin the size of a "large onion" last season at the Great Park, wanting to have a monster to show my daughter Michelle this year, and to escape the curse of 500 pounds, my giant pumpkin workshop schedule this year will be sharply curtailed. I will only be speaking at a few venues in Southern California this season. Any workshops that get scheduled will be posted here, of course.

Good luck this season!