How Does Your Garden Grow?

How to plant a pollinator-friendly garden or yard.

We’ve all heard that bees are declining at rapid rates, and that many environmental stressors (including neonicotinoid pesticides) are the culprit. Neonics play a particularly integral role in the collapse of bees because they make the bees more susceptible to these environmental stressors that they are often otherwise immune to.

Some of these environmental stressors or conditions are things we might not think of: lawns and lack of flowers to pollinate, for example. So, how can you personally help the bees? Head down to your local (we love supporting local business at Simply Bee), organic nursery and plant some flowers in your yard. Again, make sure the flowers, plants, and/or seeds have not been treated with neonic pesticides. I find it’s best to ask someone who works at the store, as plants treated with pesticides are not always labeled as such.

But, what types of flowers and plants should you plant in your home garden or yard? Below is a list of plants that benefit pollinators!

First, a few things to consider:

  • It is best to plant flowers and other plants that are native to your region as care may be easier and the bees are already regionally adapted to these plants.
  • Try to stick with single flower tops as they contain more nectar and easier accessibility than their double headed counterparts.
  • It’s helpful to plant a few different types of flowers and other plants to have more than one bloom season per year – providing honeybees and other pollinators with food for more of the year.
  • Take it easy on the fall cleanup: pollinators and many other creatures use leaves as habitats year round. Also, avoid the leaf blowers if you can!
  • Create a bee bath to provide clean water to your little gardeners. But make sure that the container is filled with marbles, pebbles, and/or twigs so the bees can land while drinking and don’t risk drowning. Bees will quickly learn this is a great place to return and get fresh water!

 

Below you will find access to a great infographic that lists some pollinator friendly plants!

We will be expanding on some of the issues discussed here – like the benefits of lawn alternatives and the importance of avoiding common lawn tools like leaf blowers. Stay tuned!

 

pollinator friendly infographic

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How to Deter Wasps Naturally and Humanely

Learn how to deter wasps naturally and humanely. These methods are also safe to use if you have children or pets!

Summertime brings with it a lot of wonderful things, like backyard BBQ’s and warm sunny weather. Unfortunately, unwanted pests, like wasps, can interrupt these events. But, as we’ve discussed at length here at Simply Bee, the use of pesticides is incredibly harmful to surrounding environments, animals, and humans. This article provides an overview natural, humane steps you can take to deter wasps from joining the BBQ.

Make sure to complete any of these steps either at night or during a rainy/cloudy day – wasps are most active and aggressive during warm sunny weather. It is also a good idea to protect yourself – stand back and wear protective clothing.

These methods are humane, natural, and only target hornets/wasps/yellow jackets, not bees.

  1. 1 Cent Solution: Fill a sandwich bag with water and put a penny in it. Experts disagree on why the contraption work (some say it is because the penny may look like a predator, while others maintain the reflection of the water is what deters the wasps) but they agree that it works!
  1. Set up a fake nest: These can be purchased or done yourself. To build your own wasp nest, simply crumple up a paper bag and wrap it with twine. Hang this up in specific areas you want to prevent wasps. Another way is to use an old wool ski sock and fill it with paper. Wasps are very territorial, and won’t set up nests near other nests. Already made wasp nests can be purchased on online retailers like Amazon.
  1. Include plants in your garden that deter wasps: This will act as both a natural wasp deterrent and a beautiful addition to any home garden or plant bed. The plants below both deter wasps and are safe for pets, children, and surrounding plants:
  • Mint

If you don’t have children or pets:

  • Citronella
  • Eucalyptus
  1. Prevention: Wasps are drawn to sugary substances and food like meat. Make sure food is not left out and garbage cans are sealed.

Note: it is important to first confirm you have encountered a wasp nest, not a bee nest! If you have found a bee nest, call a local beekeeper to remove the hive, rather than an exterminator. Calling a beekeeper is more humane, they usually are happy to adopt the bees, and it will most likely save you the money.

It is also best to avoid using sweet bait, as this can also attract other animals like birds and bees.

Do you have any effective ways to deter wasps naturally and humanely? Share below!

What *Exactly* does Maryland’s Ban on Neonics Mean?

A closer look into the implications of Maryland’s state-wide ban on the neonicotinoids.

ban neonics pic

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the Maryland Pollinator Protection Act. In many ways, the Act’s passage is a revolutionary step forward in the fight for protecting pollinators against toxic pesticides. Pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, are increasingly becoming regarded as harmful to the environment – and not just by activist groups.

Average losses in the past have been at the most 30% annually, which is still higher than a sustainable number.[1] But last year, Maryland experienced an unprecedented loss at 60% of their bee colonies.[2] The bill seeks to rectify this enormous loss by significantly curbing the use of pesticides.

What the bill accomplishes: Maryland’s passage of the Pollinator Protection Act would be the first action of its kind on a state level. This is important because the other bans that have been passed so far (discussed more in depth here) only apply to public land. Maryland’s bill, by contrast, regulates pesticides for consumer use. It can be argued that this may be even more effective than the bans already in place – often, the most concerning factor of the use of neonics is the lack of regulation on application concentration. While these pesticides ideally wouldn’t be used at all, it is in the hands of the least informed users that make the biggest impacts on the environment. For example, residual concentration is poised to happen more to an amateur gardener than a trained pesticide applicator. Private use is much more subject to overuse, says Tiffany Finck-Haynes, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth, “For someone that isn’t certified and doesn’t know how to use them, they might spray heavily. Making sure that we’re eliminating that use is a significant step in getting them out of the environment and helping to protect bees…Different studies come out showing that for home garden use these products are used 120 times more.”[3]

Maryland’s bill can also protect against consumer misinformation. For example, when consumers buy seeds at nurseries, it is often unclear whether the seeds have been treated with pesticides – many times, consumers are unknowingly contributing to the impact on pollinators.

What the bill doesn’t accomplish: Since Maryland’s bill restricts use to only those who have been trained or have experience using the pesticides, there will still be a high volume of use by farmers and veterinarians. While this is no doubt an incredibly meaningful step toward pollinator protection, a lot of concern remains as to the use of neonic pesticides at all.

 The gap is not only left open by Maryland, though. The other counties, municipalities, and cities that have passed regulation on neonics only regulate the use of pesticides on public lands. This post aims to explain why it is important to attack the issue of pesticide use on both sides of communities. Hopefully Maryland’s actions will spur private consumer regulation in these and other areas as well.

If Maryland’s bill is passed, it will be the first state-wide regulation on neonics, making Maryland a pioneer for pollinator health. Moreover, the attention from the public that this bill’s potential passage carries is another important element – the use of neonics and their impact on bees has become (and continues to be) an important focus of media, public, and legislature attention.

The act has been approved by Maryland’s House Delegates and now awaits signature by the Governor, Larry Hogan (R).

 

 

Sources

For The First Time, A State Just Banned Neonicotinoids, A Pesticide Threatening Pollinators

https://beeinformed.org/results/colony-loss-2014-2015-preliminary-results/

http://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/maryland-become-1st-state-ban-bee-killing-pesticides.html

 

[1] http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/04/08/3767856/maryland-passes-bee-bill/

[2] http://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/maryland-become-1st-state-ban-bee-killing-pesticides.html

[3] http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/04/08/3767856/maryland-passes-bee-bill/

Our Cause at Simply Bee.org

A closer look into the impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on bees.

Greetings, Readers. Today I decided to include a great visual representation that I found on the world wide web. This infographic does a great job of showing the impact of environmental threats that honeybees face — and have already been facing. We are at a crucial point of action not only in terms of environmental action, but also politically. In fact, Maryland is actually the first state to propose the ban of neonicotinoids on private and residential use. For more information about Maryland’s ban, please click here.

infographic honeybee extinction

So, what can we do about this increasing threat to pollinators like honeybees? Well, here at Simply Bee, our goal is to create a nonprofit with a three-prong plan to drastically reduce the use of pesticides regionally (SW Colorado), as well as maintain a bee habitat. We are also releasing a line of 100% natural (that’s right – we don’t even use preservatives or emulsifiers) beauty products that will go directly back into the nonprofit.

Please help us get started today by visiting our donor page here.

Thanks for stopping by! Please share our cause with your friends! What’s your favorite honeybee contribution?

Get on the ‘NO SPRAY’ List!


How to get onto your area’s no spray list to protect your yard and bees from harmful pesticides.

Happy Spring! It’s that time of year when the birds are singing, the bees are buzzing … and the pesticides are being sprayed? Many counties, cities, and municipalities spray for pest management (particularly mosquitos) around the beginning of summer. But, as we have discussed in length here at simply.org, these pesticides can be harmful to the surrounding environment, pollinators, and humans (more information on the effects of pesticides is covered in our blog here).
The pesticides often used for citywide pest management include side effects as serious as cancer, while more mild effects include irritated asthma symptoms.

In many communities, some citizens make their living by either tending a self-sustainable garden or selling their produce to local and farmers markets – sales that are contingent upon the organic status of their produce and other goods. no spray eat local foodCitywide spraying can directly impact the livelihood of these citizens. Pollinators like bees, birds, butterflies, and more are severely impacted by these pesticides as well. Even chemical rich fertilizers used in city parks make populations of earthworms and other natural pest management microorganism entities almost obsolete.[1]

Countless cities have started to adopt more eco-friendly approaches to parks and public lands, effectively outlawing the use of certain types of pesticides (particularly neonicotinoid pesticides). More information on cities who pioneered these ordinances, the steps they took, and the bans implemented can be found on our blog here.

But while these ordinances are going through necessary legislative steps, or whether they have not yet been started in your city or municipality, there are still steps you can take to ensure that your property, produce, and pollinators remain free from harmful citywide pesticide programs. ‘NO SPRAY’ signs can be obtained, officials can be contacted, and your name can be on records that indicate to the institutions responsible for the spraying that your house must be skipped. Therefore, the truck or other spraying mechanism will be turned off when passing your house. Getting neighbors involved can be very helpful, as this could result in your entire block remaining pesticide free. Pesticides affect humans, produce, and pollinators even more than we realize, and it’s time to take action as an engaged citizen against these harmful citywide practices.

In order to obtain ‘NO SPRAY’ signs, and be on ‘NO SPRAY’ lists, search for the department in your city, county, or municipality is responsible for organizing and implementing the spray(s). Many cities or states also have nonprofit or activist programs that can be joined as part of a larger movement against spraying of certain pesticides at all. It is prudent to both obtain the signs and call and contact the city/county/municipality you live in. Being thorough now can save a lot of environmental pollution and harm.

Please also visit www.driftwatch.org to sign up for the site which provides a dialogue (and signs) between various affected parties.

Please take a stand with us. Share in the comments below your experiences with pesticides, or if this article helped you take action!

For more information, please visit these sites:

  1. https://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/mosquito/documents/Stopthespraying.pdf
  2. http://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/documents/Durango%20Narrative%20Report.pdf
  3. https://driftwatch.org
  4. http://www.durangotelegraph.com/03-10-02/quick_n_dirty.htm
  5. https://mosesorganic.org/wp-content/uploads/Publications/Fact_Sheets/19ProtectingLandChemicalSpray.pdf

 

[1] http://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/documents/Durango%20Narrative%20Report.pdf

Neonics & Bees: Why is this issue important, and what should be done?

The potential harm caused to bees and other pollinators by the rampant use of neonicotinoids has the capacity to pose a real and immediate threat to both the environment and humans. The benefits that bees and other pollinators provide, combined with the potential of harm they may face, are important enough to warrant a more comprehensive testing apparatus by which to evaluate threats to their population. Environmentally, bees and other pollinators are an important piece of ecosystemic balance – from pest management to pollination of plants that are a part of many species’ diet. Anthropologically speaking, the way of life humans have been accustomed to and even need in order to survive is also largely dependent on a healthy population of bees and other pollinators; up to 70% of plants and vegetables we eat are directly a result of pollinators, and one-third of every mouthful humans consume is attributed to pollinators’ arduous work. Without a healthy population of pollinators, the agricultural variety and nutritional availability would drastically decrease. Moreover, these agricultural products pollinators are responsible for also affect billions of dollars on both a national and global level.[1] In many ways, the economic stability of the United States is at an equal risk as the pollinators. For example, an inability to produce many of our own agricultural staples would leave local and regional livelihoods disrupted and change the United States’ import/export position. Moreover, this is not just a national problem. Pollinators are responsible for over 150 billion dollars globally in agriculture.[2] Many of the nutrients humans need to be healthy would be in short supply.

The vast array of benefits that bees and other pollinators provide humans and the environment make them a critical aspect of our ecosystem and it’s balance. The potential threat that neonics pose to the well-being of pollinators, health of their population, and this ecosystemic balance all warrant a closer look at the effects of neonics on their existence. While scientists continue to study the possible effects of neonicotinoids on pollinators, how should policy makers respond? In this thesis, I argue that the various and drastic ways in which pollinators impact our environment and every day life, combined with the potential of the harsh threats their collapse would entail, warrant a more stringent approach to the evaluation of potential harms like neonicotinoids. An ethical risk assessment, as I define one, would be an appropriate tool to apply to this situation to guide policy makers in drafting regulations even in the absence of scientific certainty. Ethical risk assessments are a tool by which to evaluate the moral and ethical responsibilities in a whole host of different scenarios, one of which is neonics and pollinators. In other words, this ethical risk assessment will be used as an instrument by which to determine whether or not there is a sufficient risk to the population of pollinators, thus determining whether regulation is appropriate. Through application of this risk assessment, I will show that in this particular case regulation is appropriate due to the risks neonics pose to pollinators in light of the evidence that we do have.

The question that prompted this thesis essentially asks whether the local legislation in cities like Portland and Seattle that has been passed to protect pollinators from neonicotinoids is justified. Moreover, should legislation be passed nationally? By justified, I mean the appropriate and morally defensible action (legislative ban) to solve an identified problem (declining population of pollinators). I argue that when my ethical risk assessment is applied, it is shown that the effects of neonics on bees and other pollinators is real and substantial enough to warrant regulation like legislative action (bans), thereby making the legislative bans justified.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Trumble, John T. “The Dependence of Crops for Pollinators and the Economic Value of Pollination in Brazil.” Journal of Economic Entomology, May 4, 2015.

[2]Gallai, Nicola, Jean-Michel Salles, Josef Settele, and Bernard E. Vaissiere. “Economic Valuation of the Vulnerability of World Agriculture Confronted with Pollinator Decline.” Ecological Economics 68, no. 3 (January 15, 2009): 810-21.