Bees are unwittingly killed daily by well intentioned, albeit ignorant gardeners using insecticides and pesticides. Pesticides, the most deadly of which are the neonicotinoids (neonics), are deadly to our eco-system, to us and our food sources. The kill bees, butterflies, bats, hummingbirds, moths, lizards and very small mammals. Would you like to live in an insect free environment? I sure wouldn’t! I do live in an insecticide and pesticide free home, and my 13 acres are never sprayed. Of course we have pests, they’re unavoidable, but with care and effort we’ve managed to let nature take care of its own balance. It’s taken 3 years, but we’ve reached our goal.
We have a large number of birds of all species devouring not only the seeds and nectar I put out for them, but also this summer I noticed a significant reduction in most insects. What we do have more of is bees! In the early morning, as soon as the sun shines on the bushes and flowers, they’re covered with bees. We also have a lot of lizards and desert iguanas living in our bushes that feed on flies and other insects on our outside walls during the day; I get to watch them through my office window and when we sit outside in the vegetable garden area. If we get too many flies I set stinky pots around the property or use a farm fly catcher with an egg and milk in a small bowl attached to the bottom. To keep flying insects and moths in check at night we use yellow lights and have 2 bug zappers hanging on either side of the house. The bonus is that the turtles in the pond get bugs falling right over them, and the birds have a feast every morning, so they do our cleaning for us.
Naled, a deadly poison developed in 1959 and never tested since, was sprayed from airplanes in a fine mist a few years ago in attempts to kill the Zika mosquito, decimating millions of bees. That’s millions of pollinators stopped from doing their jobs, and honeybees deprived of making their honey. Daily other pesticides are used in smaller amounts containing Clothianidin, Carbaryl, as well as neonicotinoids, or neonics. All will poison honeybees, bumblebees and monarch butterflies as well as all the pollinating species, and because of the feeding chain, lizards, small rodents and some birds.
It’s important to know that although some insecticides kill the bees instantly on contact, others have slow effects that may last for up to 3 days before the bee dies. Neonics are slow acting. The treated seeds sprout into crops that when eaten by the insects act by slowing down their nervous system, shutting it down, causing the bees to lose their ability to learn and communicate. We all agree that controlling many insects is important, especially when those insects cause devastating harm, such as the Zika virus. However, while attempting to control the short-term danger, we cannot afford to create long-term even more damaging danger.
If we don’t act now to save the bees it might be too late. And no bees will mean an end to your favorite fruits and vegetables. Can you imagine life without almonds, apples, apricots, avocados, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, figs, grapes, olives, peaches, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberries, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, onions, pumpkins, melons, peanuts, soybeans, sunflowers? And the list goes on to include the honey we all enjoy.