Semsi Toprak

Bee innovation at Taste of Fethiye farms

Bee on tomato flower-crop-landscape

Semsi Toprak reports from our Taste of Fethiye project in Turkey…

Farmers sometimes use bees for fertilizing the plants in their greenhouses. The bees are introduced artificially from hives that consist of boxes that can be moved from place to place according to where you need them.

Farmers on the Taste of Fethiye project were using imported bees from Holland or Israel to do this job until several years ago when some entrepreneurs established bee breeding facilities in Antalya. These bees are a particular species that are specifically bred to aid tomato production inside greenhouses.

himmet-inan-crop

Taste of Fethiye agricultural adviser Himmet Inan

Bees work for about two to three months inside a greenhouse and then the colony has a resting period.

Taste of Fethiye agricultural adviser Himmet Inan usually advises farmers to use at least one hive per greenhouse, but this year two neighbouring greenhouse farmers wanted to see if it would be possible to use the same hive but in different greenhouses to fertilise their tomato plants. We approved the idea to see if it could be a good way to reduce costs by sharing bees.

However, when we were carrying out our routine farm visit in order to provide advice and help to the farmers we found out that the bees were not working as we expected and were not fertilising the tomato plants as they should. Following some investigations and discussions with the farmers we finally got to the bottom of the problem. It came to light that the farmers were also using the bees to fertilise their cherry trees!

What they hadn’t realised was that if a bee starts to fertilize cherries, they don’t want to work on the tomatoes anymore because they prefer cherries! Luckily Himmet was on hand to point this out and advise that the bees were not to be let out of the greenhouse to fertilise the cherries. He added that bees in the greenhouse are actually looking for a way to get out and fly around cherries because they taste better than tomatoes. If we had not been there as part of our routine visit the farmer’s crop would have been seriously compromised.

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