Be Bee-Friendly

by , on
Apr 7, 2015

Is your garden bee-friendly? What makes a bee-friendly garden? Well, read on dear readers.

It’s no secret that the world’s bee population is on the decline.  The total number of managed honey bee hives has decreased by 50% since 1940.  At the same time, with a growing world population, the demand for pollinators is on the increase.  It is estimated that one out of every three mouthfuls of food the world consumes is the direct or indirect result of the hard work of the earth’s busy pollinators.  

Nothing makes me happier than to be out in my yard, or in my vegetable garden, and see and hear these hard-working winged creatures.  But I have very distinctly noticed a decline in my cucumber and zucchini production over the years.  These 2 vegetables, and many others, very much rely on the work of bees to pollinate their flowers to produce the vegetable.  

Be Bee-Friendly at www.NourishandNestle.com

Image courtesy of pixbox77 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have tried many things to attract bees to my yard and garden.  I purchased Honey Bee Attractant by Monterey, but think this was a waste of money.

I have also planted many pollinator attracting plants in my yard and around my garden.  I read that a bee will frequent a garden that contains 10 different varieties of pollinator attracting plants more frequently than it will a garden with just 2 or 3 different plants.  Seems our busy, buzzy friends like a little variety in their diet!  

The list of plants that attract pollinators includes the following.  There are many more and your native plants may be different. Also, there is an app that will provide a list of bee-friendly plants specific to your zip code.  It’s free and available in both iOS and Android platforms!

Native Plants:

  • Aster Aster
  • Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia
  • Butterfly Bush Budleija Davidii
  • Butterfly Weed Asclepia Tuberosa
  • Caltrop Kallstroemia
  • Creosote bush Larrea
  • Currant Ribes
  • Elder Sambucus
  • Fennel
  • Goldenrod Solidago
  • Huckleberry Vaccinium
  • Joe-pye weed Eupatorium
  • Lupine Lupinus
  • Oregon grape Berberis
  • Penstemon Penstemon
  • Purple coneflower Echinacea
  • Rabbit-brush Chrysothamnus
  • Rhododendron Rhododendron
  • Sage Salvia
  • Scorpion-weed Phacelia
  • Snowberry Symphoricarpos
  • Stonecrop Sedum
  • Sunflower Helianthus
  • Wild buckwheat Eriogonum
  • Wild-lilac Ceanothus
  • Willow Salix

 Garden Plants:

  • Basil Ocimum
  • Bee Balm Monarda
  • Cotoneaster Cotoneaster
  • English lavender Lavandu
  • Giant hyssop Agastache
  • Globe thistle Echinops
  • Hyssop Hyssopus
  • Lantana
  • Marjoram Origanum
  • Rosemary Rosmarinus
  • Sweet Alyssum
  • Salvia
  • Wallflower Erysimum
  • Zinnia Zinnia

But here’s the thing that will just make you shake your head.  Many of these bee-attracting plants, sold in big box hardware stores or local nurseries, have been treated with chemicals that are harmful to bees.  

Let me get this right, you plant the flower or bush to attract the bees and then you, unwittingly, cause harm to the bees because these plants are laden with harmful chemicals?  Who’s in charge here?  

Home Depot has recently begun labeling plants that are treated with neonicontinoids (a class of chemicals that have been proven to cause impairment to bee brain cells and their ability to build colonies). More than 30 separate scientific studies have found a link between the neonicotinoids, which attack insects’ nerve systems, and falling bee numbers. 

I went to HD today and found these little ‘tags’ stuck in the soil of several bee-friendly plants that I would have purchased in the past. neonicotinoid tagI applaud Home Depot for labeling the plants, but be warned that these are easily pulled out of the soil.  So, what’s bee-loving gardener to do?  

I guess we just need to inform ourselves.  I called and emailed Bonnie Plants, whose vegetable plants seem to be in most large stores, this morning.  This is the response I received from them:

Bonnie Plants does not utilize any form of systemic neonicotinoid pesticides/insecticides (neonicotinoids class includes; acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, nitenpyram, nithiazine, thiacloprid, dinotefuran and thiamethoxam) in the nationwide, greenhouse production of transplants. Neonicotinoids are not contained in any seed nor are they utilized in any stage of the growing process.

Also, this year, Home Depot is requiring all live plant vendors to label plants with stick tags that indicate plants were grown using neonics, if neonics were utilized in the growing process (see press release here: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2014/07/01/home-depot-to-require-neonicotinoids-labeling/) As we do not use neonics you will see no such labeling on Bonnie Plants at Home Depot stores, nationwide. To date, other retailers have not required live good vendor labeling of neonics use, however, you can be assured, Bonnie Plants, available at any/all retailers we supply, nationwide, does not utilize any neonics.

Yay for Bonnie!!!  At the end of the day, I’d love to see the US follow the lead of  the EU who banned some neonicotinoid chemicals for a 2 year period in order to study the scientific data more fully.  

(Update 4/9/2015  from the Charlotte Observer:  “Following letters and petitions from environmental groups, Lowe’s Home Improvement said Thursday it plans to phase out products that contain certain chemicals shown to be harmful to bees.”   They estimate it will take them 4 years to slowly phase out the toxins, but it a great step in the right direction.)

 I’m not a scientist, just a concerned human who is also a gardener. And I doubt that neonicotinoids are the only harmful chemical out there.  There may be folks who claim that banning the neonicotinoids is a knee-jerk reaction and there may be a study out there that disproves the whole link.  But until we know for sure, why wouldn’t we err on the side of caution. As in all things in life, educate yourself and know what you are consuming (or in this case, offering to the bees for consumption). 

 Bee happy my friends!   Please come visit again. The easiest and most convenient way is to sign up on our email list and whenever there is anything new, we’ll send Nourish and Nestle updates directly to your inbox.

Until next time,  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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