When i first erected the mosquito net tent i bought a tomato plant called the “candyland” tomato. I had been growing husky red cherry tomatoes for as long as i could remember because they did well in pots. There were so many varieties of tomato i had wanted to try but the majority of them required the roots to grow to a certain depth in the ground before the plant would make flowers that could become tomatoes. Now that i was going to put plants in the ground, i could finally get an exciting new type of tomato plant. I was going to put one of the deep purple colored tomato plants in the basket when i saw this thing called a “candyland” tomato. They were supposed to produce little orange tomatoes that were listed as “flavorful” and “sweet like sugar”. I was fascinated. I wanted to see such a tomato grow and i wondered whether it would really be sweet like sugar or just a little sweet. I bought the candyland tomato and planted it in the ground under the mosquito net tent. It grew up and up until it was a sizable bush, full of flowers, but none of those flowers ever got pollinated. One by one, each flower shriveled and dropped off the plant. I had this massive tomato plant taking up all the space in the mosquito net tent and not one tomato to show for it. I tried to pollinate the tomato flowers with a little fuzz brush on a wire stick. I tried to use the vibrating wand to extract the pollen onto the waiting spoon rigged below. Nothing worked. The tomato flowers were open but displayed no visible pollen to speak of. The cucumbers were not getting pollinated either. I was missing all these flowers, these viable opportunities to pollinate and grow a vegetable. Cucumber and tomato flowers came and went in droves and they were all wasted, for my paintbrush pollinating wasn’t working. One night i marched into the house and grabbed my step stool and the scissors before i could change my mind. I cut a hole in the mosquito net tent ceiling so the bees could get in, hoping maybe it would be too high for the grasshoppers to take note of. As i climbed down i realized the bees wouldn’t know the hole was there. I remembered my days trying to attract bees to concrete apartment balconies. Bees were attracted to blue objects. I had hung empty blue glass wine bottles from the balcony ceiling and the bees had arrived. I searched the tool shed for something blue. I found a roll of blue tape on the shelf. Unfortunately there was a mouse in it. I climbed through the cardboard mess in the middle of the shed and all the racket i was making caused the mouse to hop out from the middle of the ring of tape and scamper down the length of the shelf and onto the floor. I could not get the mice out of the tool shed, for the life of me. Every time i got one out, it just climbed back in through one of the holes in the bent area i was always trying to fill in with plaster. They pooped on everything and they made nests with the cardboard and packing material i was storing in there. Anyways, i grabbed the roll of blue tape and headed back to the house. I had a blue pen. I grabbed that too. I would make it as blue as i could. I colored in all the puffy letters of the tent brand surrounding the hole and put a square of blue tape pieces around that. It was like a blue bullseye with a hole in the middle by the time i was done with it. But how would the bees know to fly in the direction of the tent, to look for anything blue tucked into a secluded tree-shaded area? I suddenly remembered why i had to stop washing dishes in the yard. The bees LOVED my blue rainforest scented dish soap. The moment i popped the cap off 5 or 6 of them appeared. I ran to the house as darkness fell around me and grabbed the bottle of dish washing soap. I put some on my fingers and rubbed it all around the tape and the tent surrounding the hole. Now the hole in the tent would be blue and smell good. As i stood there examining the hole i’d poked in my perfectly good tent i wondered if i was crazy or if this would work. Only time would tell. I put the door on the chicken coop for the night and took the dogs in. Hopefully the bees would get the message.
For almost a week i didn’t see a single bee. I didn’t see grasshoppers in there either. It seemed nothing had found the hole i’d made in the top of the mosquito net tent. My heart sank. Well, i had to try.
Then one day i was watering the plants in the mosquito net tent, trying to hurry in order to beat the approaching storm that was rumored to be carrying hail and threat of tornadoes. I was hurrying about when i noticed something round. I stopped hurrying. I set the watering can down. The cup fell from my hand and i dropped to my knees in the dirt. I put my face right up to the tomato plant. There were 7 baby candyland tomatoes on the plant. I couldn’t believe it! I threw my hands up and made a noise of elation, “Woooooooooo!” I danced around the yard like a wild woman screaming at the dogs, “They found it! They found it! They found the hole!!” There were two yellow squash that i had pollinated by hand, 7 candyland tomatoes pollinated by the bees, and some self pollinating beans. I felt a sense of relief wash over my body. For once lately something had gone right. Tearing up the tent was not for nothing. It was working. I had made a door for the bees. Now we had candyland tomatoes. I spent the rest of the evening going about the chores grinning ear to ear. I was ecstatic. It was a huge lesson for me, one that i had suspected but now confirmed; humans were about as good at impersonating bees as hippos were geese. Every day i ducked into the mosquito net tent to admire the bees handiwork. I thought about how many hundreds of times i had tried to pollinate those flowers to no avail and how easily the bees had done it in a week. Thank you Lord for creating the bee; the farmer’s one true partner.