I’ve been having an “ask an entomologist” session over at the JREF forums, and a question came up about tomatoes and pollination. Mercutio was concerned that with the disappearing honey bees, his tomatoes might not set fruit.
Surprise! Honeybees don’t do much tomato pollination. Tomatoes are descended from ancestors in South America. Originally, they were pollinated by solitary bees. Today’s tomatoes have been bred to self-pollinate, although that doesn’t always happen, and tomatoes won’t self-pollinate at high temperatures.
Tomatoes respond best to something called “buzz pollination“. Bees essentially act as live tuning forks, and cause the pollen to let loose so they can collect that nutritious stuff. Of course, some lands on other parts of the flower (self pollination) and some lands on the bee, who obligingly transfers it to other plants on her body (cross pollination).
Bumble bees are the most common buzz pollinators, and also some of our small solitary bees. However, where tomatoes are grown with hydroponics, there are no pollinating insects. Glasshouse growers have to use something called an Electric Bee. What’s an electric bee? Why, it’s a happy name for a vibrator on a stick.
In fact, in some places, vibrators are the standard against which domesticated bees are tested. (The process is called manual vibration. Snort!)
So, Merc, the answer to your question is: Your tomatoes should be fine, but if not, just borrow some of your wife’s….household appliances.
Like her electric toothbrush, you pervs!!