The benefits to a greenhouse are abundant.
A greenhouse can protect your plants from harsh outdoor conditions all year. Greenhouses can also conserve water, which is important to those concerned about the environment. Furthermore, greenhouses can look absolutely stunning and add some visual appeal to your property.
But they also have their share of problems. One challenge many greenhouse gardeners face is how to pollinate their gardens.
In nature, pollination is done by a variety of things, but none is quite as important as the bee. So do greenhouses need bees?
Keep reading, and we’ll tell you about the role bees can have in greenhouses.
Quick Answer: Do Greenhouses Need Bees?
Greenhouses don’t need bees, but bees are incredibly helpful to them. While there are other methods of pollinating your greenhouse gardens, bees are by far the most efficient, automating a task that would otherwise need to be done manually by gardeners.
The Challenge of Pollinating in a Greenhouse
You might be wondering why plants can’t just pollinate on their own in greenhouses. Truthfully, there are some self-pollinating plants, such as peas and lettuce.
But many other plants have learned to pollinate using factors in their environment. These things include using the wind and water to carry pollen or using living pollinators like birds and bugs.
Obviously, when you grow a garden inside a greenhouse, you’re taking away all these helpful environmental pollinators.
Furthermore, the humidity of a greenhouse can make it even harder for pollen to move by making grains stick together.
Basically, pollinating in a greenhouse isn’t as easy as you’d think it could be, and gardeners have been working through the ages to figure out the most efficient methods.
Ways to Pollinate in Your Greenhouse
Currently, there are three main ways to pollinate a greenhouse garden:
- Manual pollination
- Using pollinating devices
We’ll briefly touch on each one so you understand which may work best for you.
This is exactly what it sounds like: pollinating each plant by hand. This means you are transporting pollen from one part of a plant to the correct parts of the same plant (if it’s self-pollinating) or from male to female flowers in cross-pollinating plants.
For self-pollinating plants, this can be done gently vibrating or shaking them. This allows pollen to drop from the male part of the plant into the female portion.
With cross-pollinating plants, there’s a little more work involved. Some gardeners have used soft-bristled paint or toothbrushes to gather pollen from male flowers on the bristles, brushing it into the female flowers.
The main drawback to this strategy is you will have to do this for all of your plants. It’s not difficult, but it is extremely time-consuming.
Using pollinating devices.
There are some devices available today used to aid in pollination, such as this one.
In essence, they work just like manual pollination. These devices will either gently vibrate or gather pollen from each plant, allowing you transport it as necessary.
Similar to manual pollination, it’s also time-consuming because you will have to do this for each individual plant.
Out of all the methods used for pollination today, bees are easily the most efficient. Instead of having to go pollinate your plants by hand for hours and hours, bees will do all of that for you.
For that reason, many gardeners keeps hives of bees in their greenhouses. From the moment they’re able to fly until the end of their lives, those bees will fly around gathering pollen to feed their offspring, which allows them to pollinate effectively.
Some gardeners will even use methods to attract bees to their greenhouses, rather than keeping a hive there. You can read more about how to do so here.
Pollination is one of the biggest challenges facing modern greenhouses. Because they’re cut off from pollinators normally found in nature, plants within them aren’t able to pollinate as easily.
The problem is, without pollination, plants might not fruit at all, and if they do, the fruits or vegetables could be misshapen.
While it is possible to pollinate plants by hand, bees are the most efficient way of pollinating. They handle the whole process for you and save you hours of time.
Pollination isn’t the only challenge associated with greenhouses. Choosing a greenhouse can be tough, too. If you need some help choosing a greenhouse, try looking at our list of best greenhouses for a desert climate or best greenhouses for winter gardening.