I have bees.
Every time anyone within a mile of us sprays, all my bees are at risk of annihilation. Three times I have lost entire colonies from poisoning. It’s easy to tell — 30,000 bees (one hive) die overnight. Their little tongues hang out as they try to rub the poison off. Each bee shakes violently from the nerve poison. It is not a quick death; it takes up to 24 hours and is painful to witness. People don’t realize how terrible a death it is. Do we really need to use poisons in our yards and gardens?
Only a few bees need to get poison on them while they are collecting pollen, and they will bring it back to the hive. The poisoned bee frantically asks another bee to help get the sticky burning stuff off them, and that repeats until every bee in the hive has been touched by poison. 100 bees can transmit to all 30,000 in just a few hours.
Please don’t use poisons. Your grandkids, kids and pets will inevitably get some on them if they are outdoors. Sprays drift and kids eat (and pets lick) what they touch. Poisons are not specific. They affect bees, butterflies, caterpillars who turn into butterflies and moths, and all kinds of native pollinators.
What does that look like?
POISONED BEES <– click here
If you absolutely insist upon using poisons, I offer a few tips that will hopefully keep more bees and innocent bugs alive.
(1) Sprays are meant to be used in COLD weather BEFORE buds bloom. Bees are not attracted to tight buds. Once a tree starts blooming, it is too late to spray and the pollinators are present.
(2) Spray before dawn or after dusk on windless cool days when bees are less likely to be out collecting pollen and nectar.
(3) Use organic sprays rather than straight-out poison and follow the directions exactly. Even organics have trade-offs; they are not perfect. If used at the wrong time or wrong way, they still can kill bees.
(4) BEST SOLUTION — A far smarter idea is to improve your soil. Make it healthier so you don’t need to spray at all.
Have you ever wondered why insects and diseases attack certain plants and why they leave others alone? Most people don’t know that the secret is in good soil. Soil with good plant nutrition makes everything that grows in it more robust and healthy. Healthy plants have natural strength and resilience that help them survive and thrive. Pests and diseases know that and leave them alone.
Pests and diseases are not really bad guys; they also have a role in nature. Their job is to attack weak plants before they set seed. If you have a lot of problems in your garden, don’t try to attack the problems with poisons. Instead make your plants stronger.
Nature is always culling healthy from strong, and for good reason. Nature doesn’t want seeds from undernourished and unhealthy plants to enter the gene pool. That introduces weakness.
Here is a better idea: Increase plant health by amending the soil with specific minerals for your area. Feed the plants’ roots by adding compost and manure. When your soil gets healthier, your plants will become stronger, set more fruit, bloom longer and be more lush. Pests are not interested in healthy plants. Healthy plants know how to fight diseases. Instead of trying to kill the disease or pests, put your energy into making the plants stronger so they can take care of themselves.
Two additional reasons:
- Poisons are expensive and you have to use them repeatedly which puts more money in the pockets of pesticide and herbicide companies. If you invest instead in making soil healthy, it won’t cost you nearly as much.
- Organic fruits and vegetables are more nutrient dense which makes YOU healthier, too.
Jacqueline Freeman is a biodynamic farmer and natural beekeeper. She is known for her gentle and understanding ways with bees. Jacqueline authored the book, “Song of Increase: Listening to the Wisdom of Honeybees for Kinder Beekeeping and a Better World ,” available on Audible, and in English, Dutch, French and Spanish.