Although commercially reared colonies of bumble bees (Bombus sp.) are the primary pollinator world-wide for greenhouse tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) previous research indicates that honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) might be a feasible alternative or supplement to bumble bee pollination. However, management methods for honey bee greenhouse tomato pollination scarcely have been explored. We 1) tested the effect of initial amounts of brood on colony population size and flight activity in screened greenhouses during the winter, and 2) compared foraging from colonies with brood used within screened and unscreened greenhouses during the summer. Brood rearing was maintained at low levels in both brood and no-brood colonies after 21 d during the winter, and emerging honey bees from both treatments had significantly lower weights than bees from outdoor colonies. Honey bee flight activity throughout the day and over the 21 d in the greenhouse was not influenced by initial brood level. In our summer experiment, brood production in screened greenhouses neared zero after 21 d but higher levels of brood were reared in unscreened greenhouses with access to outside forage. Flower visitation measured throughout the day and over the 21 d the colonies were in the greenhouse was not influenced by screening treatment. An economic analysis indicated that managing honey bees for greenhouse tomato pollination would be financially viable for both beekeepers and growers. We conclude that honey bees can be successfully managed for greenhouse tomato pollination in both screened and unscreened greenhouses if the foraging force is maintained by replacing colonies every 3 wk.
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Vol. 96 • No. 3