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Just another question about bees and plants. :)

We have the Zealong tea plantation just down the road(about 2 kms)and the flowers seem to be in full bloom now.I cant find much research on bees and tea pollination so was wondering if anyone knows if its a good bee food source.Im hoping it is because the plantation is rather big :)

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Tea bushes are rarely grown from seed, most are propagated from cloned leaves. The flower is largely self-incompatable and the plant relies on cross-pollination and pollinators to fruit. In Sri Lanka tea is mostly pollinated by flies, bees are seasonal visitors and less numberous, although McGregor reported bees as pollinators. I reckon the alkaloids would make it pretty unattractive. That might be just as well. Tea is known for a toxic nectar. Other camellias - I don't know, wouldn't think so

 

Honeybee (Apis mellifera) colonies at Darang, India, have suffered brood mortality in October, when tea bushes are in flower, in each year since 1977. Three colonies (4- 5 combs each) were established on empty combs in October 1983, and given one comb of healthy brood and combs containing fresh nectar taken from Darang colonies. It was established by pollen analysis of nectar taken from foragers that the nectar was tea nectar. Symptoms of poisoning appeared in all colonies within 2-3 days; larvae turned yellow and died, emitting a rancid odour. Larvae which were fed on tea nectar in the laboratory showed similar symptoms, whereas larvae fed with diluted nectar taken from healthy colonies developed normally. There were no apparent harmful effects on adults. It is concluded that the presence of poorly managed small tea estates in the foot-hills of the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas renders the area unsuitable for A. mellifera colonies in autumn.

O. P. Sharma, Desh Raj And Rajesh Garg. 1986. Toxicity of nectar of tea (Camellia thea L.) to honeybees. Journal of Apicultural Research Vol. 25 (2) pp. 106-108

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So do you think the bees would avoid if possible.I would hate to set up a few hives just to see them die off :(

First, I doubt your tea flowers will produce much nectar, and yes, I doubt the bees will collect it. I know the flowers only open for two days, but I don't know how long the crop will flower for. And 2k away? It wouldn't stop me.

 

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