I’ve been getting a lot of insy winsy zucchinis off my plants. If I tried to wait until they became respectable zucchinis, their ends withered and they rotted on the vine when they were about the size of my index finger. I began to suspect that they weren’t being pollinated.
“How is this possible?” you might ask. “You have 2 1/2 bee hives, ” you might point out. Well, yes I do. The problem with bees is they are actually wild animals with a will (and tastes) of their own. My bees appear to prefer the taste of Melaleuca (paperbark tree) flowers over vegetable flowers. No amount of discussion will bring them ’round. They keep flying over perfectly good zucchini, squash, watermelon, cucumber…. flowers and buzzing straight for the Melaleuca trees. And maybe a few gums as well.
The reason I suspect the Melaleuca is not just because my bees keep returning to their hive laden with white pollen but because my back garden is heavy with the aroma of unusual honey. Well, unusual to me. I’ve had my bees for about 5 months and on most days I smell honey (I can picture all those girls flapping up a storm over the comb filled with nectar, evaporating off the water to create honey) but that smell changes slightly over time – presumably based on what nectar the bees are collecting. Recently it’s smelled really odd to me. Then, a couple of days ago I walked past my neighbour’s Melaleuca and smelt a stronger version of the oddness of my honey. Being a clever bunny I deduced this was where my ladies were hanging out when my zucchini flowers were doing their best to attract attention.
To make a long story short, in order to get a good sized (i.e. pollinated) zucchini I’ve resorted to using a paint brush to move pollen from the boy flowers to the girl flowers. And here’s the result. A 950 gram (2 pound) zucchini fresh off the vine. Who needs bees anyway!