Think Like a Bee

The problem with growing vegetable plants in a tent was that i lost the perk of having the bees do the job of pollination for me. Bees would always be better at pollination than humans for one reason. They visited more plants than i did. They had pollen on their legs from squash plants across town in someone else’s yard from 3 days ago. So, it didn’t matter if none of my female flowers were open at the same time as the male flowers because the bees would be bringing their own male flower pollen to the party. In a tent, i was only working with the plants i had on hand and if no male flowers were ready when the female flower opened; no squash. i quickly learned that when a male flower was ready and the female flower was still closed, i just had to tear it open and deposit the pollen on the day the male flower bloomed because if i waited too long the male flower wilted and the pollen became soggy and disappeared into the rotting flower.

I started out with these little brushes. I would brush them against the male flower’s pollen and then brush them against the center of the female flower in hopes of making a squash.

Eventually i ditched the brushes all together and decided the best most efficient way was to just take the male flower off the plant, peel away the excess bulk of the petals, and insert the center of the male flower directly into the center of the female flower, depositing as much pollen as i could before discarding the male flower or feeding the petals to the chickens.

It took me a while to learn which flowers were male and which were female. The female flowers always had a tiny squash or a tiny cucumber on the back of them. If that flower got pollinated the squash or cucumber grew. If it didn’t, it wrinkled and fell off the plant along with the spent flower.

Every day i tried to pollinate the female flowers that had matured. Unfortunately, even doing my best job as a pollinator with what i had in front of me; i was no good substitute for the honey bees.

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1 Comment

  1. Since we are seeing so few bees, I am also resorting to hand pollination. Not as effective, but we get enough for our purposes. Glad I don’t have to do a field of squash though! Nice photos. Thanks for sharing.

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