The Bees aren’t doing their job properly this year
I’ve had a real problem with my runner beans not setting pods this year. I can see the neighbors over the fence and they are just as bad, spoke to a couple of locals and they have the same problem. There are loads of flowers, but the pods just aren’t
forming, the flowers just fall off and leave no beans, well, when I say no beans, there are a few, but nothing like the volume there should be.
I’ve just been down to pick a few (because that’s all there is!) and the plants are covered in bees, have been watered well and the ground was prepared at the start of the year, so although some years are always better than others, I should be eating runner beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner by now.
So as always when I see bees somewhere, I stopped for a look just to watch them working. That’s when I realised what was happening, the bees seem to be biting through the base of the flowers instead of entering through the open flower itself, so they are not pollinating the flower in the process, therefore no beans!
I can’t say for sure which bees are doing it, but well over 90% of the bees on there
are honey bees, although they all seem to be feeding in the same way, bumbles, a few solitary bees and several types of honey bee. Obviously it’s not mine causing the problem (Ahem), but they are certainly all getting in there for a free feed once the hole has been chewed through the base of the flower. I’ve not noticed it on anything else either now or earlier in the year, it seems odd that they just want to access this way on the runners.
The worrying thing is why this is happening, it can’t be the type of runner which is being grown because several of us have the same problem. It can only be something to do with the bees themselves, possibly the strain, or even some kind of environmental factor which is making them behave this way, either way, the result is a very poor crop of runner beans.
These pictures clearly show what’s going on. Sorry about the poor quality photographs but I took them with my phone, which doesn’t take a bad picture usually, except for close up!
The thing which I find most confusing is that in the pictures, they appear to be biting through the stalk type covering (yes I know it probably has a proper name) over the base of the flower, so I would
have thought that just entering the way that nature intended, i.e.
through the flowers opening itself would be a lot easier anyway. Obviously once the hole is there, it’s probably even easier to just keep using it, but why do it in the first place?
So if you have the same problem, with runner beans not setting pods or producing many beans this year, that could be your answer. You can watch them working fairly safely without getting stung, but be a bit sensible about it! I put my hand close with the camera, not my face, you’ll be able to see if they are going in the flower or round the back while they are working.
I’d be very interested to know if anyone else has had the same problems? Please leave a comment if you have…