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Runner beans not setting

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Runner beans not setting

Post  Icemaiden on 7/31/2010, 1:42 pm

Hi everyone!
I was going to post a query about this last week, and then changed my mind after I looked on the internet

Normally I plant broad beans and get a crop of sorts. This year I could not find any broad bean seed so I tried runner beans - a dwarf variety called Hestia. I've tried runner beans before but never got more than two leaves on each plant!

This year, thanks to Mel's mix and an exceptionally warm summer, I have some lovely plants with heaps of very pretty red and white flowers. They have been flowering for over a month but not a single bean has set. I looked on the internet and read that at best only about 50% of the flowers set and that bees are the pollinators so no bees would mean no beans.

Well, there are plenty of bees in the snapdragons (antirrhinum) but I've never seen one in the runner beans. So I had pretty much written them off

Then today I was listening to a BBC Gardeners' Question Time programme and someone on there said it could be worth spraying with sugar solution as that would attract wasps and flies which could also pollinate the flowers. So I threw some honey in a jug of water and splashed it around and lo and behold! Instant insect life!

It remains to be seen if any beans set, and actually it is probably too late for them to mature even if they do, but I thought I would pass this idea on in case anyone else wants to try it.

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Re: Runner beans not setting

Post  Retired Member 1 on 7/31/2010, 4:50 pm

Wonderful idea. My pole beans haven't done very well, and I still have 2+ months before a freeze, so think I'll follow your lead.

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Re: Runner beans not setting

Post  camprn on 7/31/2010, 9:57 pm

belfrybat wrote:Wonderful idea. My pole beans haven't done very well, and I still have 2+ months before a freeze, so think I'll follow your lead.
+1, me too.
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Re: Runner beans not setting

Post  Icemaiden on 8/1/2010, 6:09 am

I think it might be wise to only spray the flowers - I splashed it all over the place so had a lot of insects on the leaves which is no help!

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Re: Runner beans not setting

Post  Megan on 8/1/2010, 3:48 pm

I was reading up on pole beans (as I had no idea what greasy beans, cut-short, etc were.) The page I found said that pole beans are generally pollinated inside the flower where bees can't reach them, such that cross-pollination was rare, but that bumblebees sometimes break open the flowers to cause it to happen anyway. (I remember the factlet because a comparison was drawn between pole beans can't cross pollinate, but bumblebees can't fly either.) And my pole bean flowers are very tight and sort of self-enclosed.

My pole beans bloomed for quite a while before they started setting beans. I am getting lots of them now, though. (In fact, it's getting to be like cat fur... wherever you look, there they are!) Hope the same will be true for you, too!
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Re: Runner beans not setting

Post  Icemaiden on 8/1/2010, 4:22 pm

@Megan wrote:I was reading up on pole beans (as I had no idea what greasy beans, cut-short, etc were.) The page I found said that pole beans are generally pollinated inside the flower where bees can't reach them, such that cross-pollination was rare, but that bumblebees sometimes break open the flowers to cause it to happen anyway. (I remember the factlet because a comparison was drawn between pole beans can't cross pollinate, but bumblebees can't fly either.) And my pole bean flowers are very tight and sort of self-enclosed.

My pole beans bloomed for quite a while before they started setting beans. I am getting lots of them now, though. (In fact, it's getting to be like cat fur... wherever you look, there they are!) Hope the same will be true for you, too!

Beans are horribly confusing if you ask me! I read this article
http://www.nvsuk.org.uk/medwyn-williams-vegetable-grow-show-86.html
and it says there that French beans are self-pollinating so each flower makes a bean (unless the weather is too hot or something like that) but runner beans need to be pollinated.

Wondering now why I didn't sow French beans I suppose I could try hand pollininating and making a noise like a bee at the same time....

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Re: Runner beans not setting

Post  Megan on 8/1/2010, 4:26 pm

I think the nomenclature is confusing. Around here, runner beans and pole beans seem to be differentiated, though I'm not sure why. (Then, to make it more confusing, there is the whole crowder bean/field pea/cowpea type!) I am really happy with my Cherokee pole beans, though; I'm definitely going to grow them again.
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