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Author Topic: Bees and pesticides?  (Read 381 times)

Offline So-apiary

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Bees and pesticides?
« on: August 29, 2020, 03:25:08 pm »
Just a newbee collecting info before cranking up next Spring...  So, I want bees because my veggie garden had too few pollinators and a pathetic harvest.  Also, it's something I've been thinking about for years, and now I have a good reason to go for it.  However, my veggie garden always gets unwanted creatures that can destroy a crop in no time, so I'm going to have to deal with them, but I don't want to hurt the bees in the process.  What to do?

A mixture of dishwashing liquid and vinegar or water may do the trick in the garden, but will the bees be okay?  What about neem oil spray?  DE?  If I use a commercial pesticide meant to be used on edibles, and if I close the hive when I spray and leave it closed for a full day, will the bees be harmed when I let them back out near the garden?  The spray says it's okay to eat the veggies 24 hours after spraying, so I'm wondering if that would also be okay for the bees.

Any other pesticides, natural or otherwise, that I can use on my garden without harming the bees?  I've heard chickens can help, but I don't have chickens and probably never will.

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Bees and pesticides?
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2020, 06:26:49 pm »
My mom is the gardener in our family, so I'm getting a lot of this info secondhand, but she's always careful to make sure anything she uses wouldn't harm my girls or the native bees.  What I always tell her to remember is to ask yourself how the insecticide kills the insects.  The bees are only visiting flowers, so if whatever you are doing doesn't affect the flowers, it should be pretty safe.  For example, something like neem oil requires the insects to eat the plant it's been sprayed with.  As long as you don't spray open flowers, that's going to have essentially no impact on a hive.  Something like dishwashing liquid is meant to drown small insects, so as long as the liquid is just sprayed on the plants, not much impact there.  DE is generally okay from what I've heard, but be careful about using it in a dearth, as bees have been known to collect other dusts when there is no pollen.  I would steer clear of strong broad spectrum insecticides like Sevin, and always be careful about spraying open blooms and plants treated with systemic insecticides.

Also, in my experience, chickens IN a garden is a romantic fantasy that does not reflect reality.  I can see having them in a fallow garden, but in an active garden with plants, that would be a disaster.  We tried letting our chickens in our garden the first year, and they ate and/or destroyed everything.                 
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Offline FloridaGardener

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Re: Bees and pesticides?
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2020, 11:03:16 pm »
Poor harvest is mostly due to soil tilth, so use lots of organic matter to amend.  Find someone with horses.  It's usually free, and doesn't burn plants the way chicken manure does.

Add a free load of wood chips from a tree service - but make sure you know the tree they chipped wasn't diseased.  Add LOTS of nitrogen with those tree chips.  See mushrooms? Let 'em grow.  Have bugs? North Georgia can host lizards (anoles). They eat loads of critters.  The green ones are better.  You can even buy a few at Petsmart.  But if you use pesticide, the creatures that eat bugs will leave, or die.  Most people I know who tried ladybugs just watched them fly far away. 

I do use Amdro for horrible fire ant nests, and dish-soapy water at times, but the rest of the time not much is needed. 

Work on your soil.  Old beeswax slumgum is great fertilizer. Some sugar can help boost a fruit tree to kick a fungal problem.  Look into capped "worm towers" that compost kitchen scraps without letting hive beetles in. Find low spots in your yard for "peat bogs" to rot logs and make mulch.

After 5 years ecology here has set in.  The rabbit comes out to graze and isn't afraid of us, the turtle eats every bug or veg at ground level, and she lays eggs for more turtles. I've got green lizards, brown lizards, blue tailed skinks, pink glass lizards, and red salamanders all eating bugs and dead bees, and leaving scat for compost.  Migrating birds stop and root around for bugs....they scat too.  The herons stork around stalking the salamanders.   They're all free and none of them give me cancer or hurt the bees.  Thumbs up.

Another option is mechanical control...netting over the most susceptible crop.

Online Hops Brewster

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Re: Bees and pesticides?
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2020, 10:34:26 am »
If it can kill pests it can kill bees.
Some veg's need bees, but a lot of garden veg's don't rely on bees for pollination.   Look into other issues for poor productivity.  See above.
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Bees and pesticides?
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2020, 09:44:51 am »
We tried letting our chickens in our garden the first year, and they ate and/or destroyed everything.               
Chickens in the garden before planting in the spring.  They tear up the soil, eat grubs and fertilize.  Collect the poop in buckets and spread on the snow over fall and winter.
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Offline paus

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Re: Bees and pesticides?
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2020, 11:08:12 am »
May I shed some light on an "Old Husbands Tale" Chicken litter does not in fact burn plants. Rather because it is very rich in nutrients it ties up a great deal of nitrogen in the natural composting process.  This deprives the plants of enough nitrogen to grow as we would like, therefore it looks "burned".  To offset this add Nitrogen from a sack,  after all nitrogen is nitrogen if it comes  from a sack,  from rain, or any other source it is only nitrogen.  When we spread chicken litter I always add 100-250-= actual pounds of nitrogen per acre to help with the natural decomposition of the added nutrients.

Offline van from Arkansas

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Re: Bees and pesticides?
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2020, 11:46:45 am »
Paus, I will add to your post.  Birds excrete uric acid to rid the body of nitrogen, particularly ammonia.  Mammals excrete urine, urea, to rid the body of ammonia.  Uric acid is a white crystal that is the white stuff in bird droppings.  So chicken liter is very acidic due to uric acid, so neutralize with lime or yes, the liter will burn if to close to a plant.

Pesticides:
Pyrethrin is derived from plant flower extract, natures natural pesticide and certainly will kill bees and lizards that eat the poisoned bugs.  However pyrethrin is deactivated by sunlight.  To control bugs, do not spray when blooming and only spray at evening or after dark.  This is one of those wash and so called safe to eat next day pesticides.  I am providing info, I do not endorse nor decline use of.

Cheers
I have been around bees a long time, since birth.  I am a hobbyist so my answers often reflect this fact.  I concentrate on genetics, raise my own queens by wet graft, nicot, with natural or II breeding.  I do not sell queens, I will give queens  for free but no shipping.

Online Ben Framed

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Re: Bees and pesticides?
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2020, 12:22:19 pm »
I appreciate your post Mr Van and Mr Paus.  The best tomatoes that we have ever raised was when we had chickens. We always let our chicken manure dry before use, (decompose) by removing from the roosting area and spreading in a drying (aging) area. No problems thereafter; quite the contrary.   
« Last Edit: September 01, 2020, 12:40:33 pm by Ben Framed »
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Offline paus

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Re: Bees and pesticides?
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2020, 12:33:37 pm »


Van, You are correct.  In my area liming is a given or it should be.  I try to lime every other year until I get soil up to at least 6.2pH.  I should have limed last week because the Hogs have Plowed up about 20 percent of the open pasture in the last two nights, and they would have worked the lime into the soil.  I put some corn over a bumble bee nest yesterday and I can't wait  to see if the hogs and bumble bees came to an understanding last night, the Bumble bees are about 50 yards from some hives.  Stay tuned









van, You re correct

Offline So-apiary

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Re: Bees and pesticides?
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2020, 07:46:33 pm »
Thanks to everyone for their suggestions and insight.  I should add that my soil is full of high-quality organic matter, compost and aged manure.  The problem I had was that the blossoms were not being pollinated -- lots and lots of blooms but very little actual fruit.  The stems and leaves were all doing well enough, despite the pests, so I'm pretty sure it is a pollinator issue. 

@Van, your post reminded me that I bought some painted daisies, a.k.a. pyrethrums, and planted them in pots around the garden, hoping to control some pests that way, but they haven't grown well and haven't flowered at all.  Would they be a hazard to bees?  If so, I can do away with the daisies and try some of the other pest management methods mentioned here.  No big loss since they aren't doing so great anyway.


Offline beesnweeds

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Re: Bees and pesticides?
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2020, 11:06:30 pm »
Thanks to everyone for their suggestions and insight.  I should add that my soil is full of high-quality organic matter, compost and aged manure.  The problem I had was that the blossoms were not being pollinated -- lots and lots of blooms but very little actual fruit.  The stems and leaves were all doing well enough, despite the pests, so I'm pretty sure it is a pollinator issue. 

   You can also put mason bee nests out in very early spring.  Solitary bees are more likely to visit your garden.
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Offline So-apiary

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Re: Bees and pesticides?
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2020, 04:03:13 am »
Mason bees would work, but then I wouldn't need honeybees, and I kinda had my heart set on the whole beekeeping experience. :( Oh well, guess I need to explore the idea of mason bees. As much as the experience of beekeeping appeals to me, any decent pollinator should do the job in my garden so that the zillions of flowers actually develop fruit.

This is gonna force me to think really hard about all the pros and cons of beekeeping. Better to do that BEFORE setting up a hive!

Offline The15thMember

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Re: Bees and pesticides?
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2020, 09:42:57 am »
Mason bees would work, but then I wouldn't need honeybees, and I kinda had my heart set on the whole beekeeping experience. :( Oh well, guess I need to explore the idea of mason bees. As much as the experience of beekeeping appeals to me, any decent pollinator should do the job in my garden so that the zillions of flowers actually develop fruit.

This is gonna force me to think really hard about all the pros and cons of beekeeping. Better to do that BEFORE setting up a hive!
It's not necessarily that simple.  It really depends on what you are planning on growing.  Honey bees are great generalist pollinators, and they will pollinate most things well enough, but they don't pollinate everything.  Native bees tend to be more specialized at what they pollinate, but they tend to be better pollinators of those things than honey bees.  Do some research about what pollinators will best benefit the plants that you are growing. 

Also, honey bees and native bees are not at all mutually exclusive.  I have 7 hives about 100 yards from my mother's garden, but we still have plenty of squash bees, sweat bees, carpenters, miner bees, and bumbles.  I even saw a wool carder bee for the first time this year.  I put up cans with straws in them to draw in mason bees, and they've been relatively successful.  I also have some beneficial potter wasps living in one of them.  Now if you live in a developed area, you may not have a lot of biodiversity, but you'd be astonished how many bees there are helping out your garden when you give them the habitat to thrive.  In my opinion, especially if you are having trouble with fruit set, drawing in native pollinators is something that is of great benefit, with or without the added bonus of the honey bees.         
« Last Edit: September 12, 2020, 01:36:31 pm by The15thMember »
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline So-apiary

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Re: Bees and pesticides?
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2020, 12:01:20 am »
@The15thMember Thanks for the input. From a little quick research, I'm inclined to agree with you. Rather than focusing on one kind of bee over another, it seems better to go ahead with plans for honeybees while also adding some nests for other types of bees. Looks like mason bees are mostly active in the spring, but my garden still has blooms that need pollinating, even this late in the year. Then there are the fall veggies I'll plant this week... So that's more pollination than I can expect from mason bees alone.

So yay! I get to have it all! Not many things in life you can say that about.  :grin:

Online Hops Brewster

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Re: Bees and pesticides?
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2020, 12:40:13 pm »
Mason bees would work, but then I wouldn't need honeybees, and I kinda had my heart set on the whole beekeeping experience. :( Oh well, guess I need to explore the idea of mason bees. As much as the experience of beekeeping appeals to me, any decent pollinator should do the job in my garden so that the zillions of flowers actually develop fruit.

This is gonna force me to think really hard about all the pros and cons of beekeeping. Better to do that BEFORE setting up a hive!
If you want to keep bees then keep bees.  It may or may not help you with your pollination issue, however.  I will reiterate, your crop failure is not necessarily due to pollinator failure. 
A lot of garden plants don't rely on pollinators.  Some are wind pollinated. Others are self-pollinating. And even if pollination is successful there are several reasons why the fruit won't 'set', such as soil Ph, air temperatures, too little water, too much water... just to name a few. 

 I know in my own garden that some sort of aphid or thrip was eating the flowers at night before the pollinators could get to them in the day.

I keep honey bees, mason bees and leafcutter bees.  Other pollinators include different types of native bees, butterflies or hummingbirds. And my garden failed miserably this year!  Stop blaming it all on pollinators.
Winter is coming.

I can't say I hate the government, but I am proudly distrustful of them.