Farming often involves detective work… Who nibbled up those tender green woodapple leaves the minute they sprouted? Why are the bottom halves of all the tomatoes missing? Which way did the elephant go on the night of the 12th, and what are these gross stomach contents it’s left bits of? Then there’s the locked room mystery: how did the as-yet-unidentified thief pilfer all the channa, leaving the pods untouched and sealed?

And the question that has been exercising me for some time now: Where are all the drumsticks? We have on our farm two good drumstick/moringa trees, feathery, graceful and starred with hundreds of pretty white flowers. But the number of those flowers that have turned into drumsticks? One, just one.

At first, I thought the tree was still young and coming into its own. But now an ugly suspicion has reared its head – is there skullduggery afoot? I see hardly any drumsticks in the market, and the many moringa trees in our neighbourhood in Bangalore (top pic) also seem barren. Could it be that the pollinators have declined? I did some research on who pollinates moringa, and found this:

Pollination ecology of Moringa oleifera (Moringaceae)


  • P V Jyothi
  • J B Atluri
  • C Subba Reddi

At Visakhapatnam (17°42′N-82°18′E), Moringa oleifera Lam. flowers twice a year, once during February–May and again during September–November. Both geitonogamous and xenogamous pollinations produce fruit, but the latter mode is superior. The flowers are zygomorphic and gullet type. They open during 0300–1900 h, and are visited only by diurnally active insects during 0600–1500 h. Bees are the dominant foragers, of whichXylocopa andAmegilla carry pollen on the head and/or thorax to effect nototribic pollination.Xylocopa was more frequent and proved to be the major pollinator.

Ok, so it’s bees that are supposed to pollinate this critter. Are the bee numbers declining? No, they aren’t. I see dorsata bee hives everywhere. (Thanks to Ron Miksha of Bad Beekeeping Blog for first acquainting me with some bee facts.) Many of them are new. A couple of years ago, one swarm took over my composting pots (these must be another species; another sleuthing job), forcing me to switch over to a compost pit. And there’s a new dorsata hive right in front of our house, a stone’s throw from the moringas. See it?


So, bees all present and correct; and my mystery is still unsolved. Any clue anybody?




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