What’s happenin’ Boomers?

Let’s Talk about the birds and the bees.

birds and bees

No, not those birds and bees, if you don’t know THAT story by now, it’s probably too late. I mean the birds that wake me up at 5:00 am with their happy morning song now that it gets light that early. The birds I invite into my yard with offerings of seed during the warm months and high energy suet cakes in winter. Their happy chatter raises my spirits. Their fluttering about entertains my cats immensely as they watch through the window. Most of the time we hardly notice them, but what if they disappeared? More importantly, what if the bees disappeared?

Food with out bees?

Nearly every fruit and vegetable produced must be pollinated by bees. In fact, bees are transported via truck throughout the growing season to areas with a need. But bees are disappearing at an alarming rate. In the 1970’s there were about 4 million bee colonies, today estimates are around 2.5 million. (The Nature Conservancy). Okay, so 1/2 of the bee population may not seem like a big deal, but the U.S. population has risen from 210 million in the 70’s to around 328 million today. Farmers must grow food for 118 million more Americans, plus what they export.

So, what’s going on?

The cause seems to be that adult bees are not returning to the hive after collecting pollen, which is uncharacteristic of bee behavior. Losses have occurred rapidly and in large numbers. Ironically, the Farmers that depend on bees for crop pollination are a large part of the problem. Farming destroys habitat and over uses pesticides. You may be thinking, well if farming is the problem, what’s it got to do with me?

Consider all the habitat that has been destroyed since 1970 to build houses, malls, grocery stores, and other businesses. What about the landscaping for these places? Over 1 billion tons, yes 1 billion TONS of pesticides are used every year in the U.S. If you’re using pesticides in your yard, you ARE part of the problem. Home and garden use totals more than 70 million tons each year.

How can we all help?

Instead of using toxic pesticides that kill ALL insects, like

  • Bug-B-Gone
  • Spectracide
  • Triazicide

Why not use beneficial insects? Yes many of the bugs we see in our yards eat other bugs.

  • Green Lacewings
  • Lady bugs
  • Praying Mantis

Are beneficial insects and can be purchased at Arbico Organics.  And sometimes at local garden centers.

At your local Home and Garden Center, look for products that are OMRI (Organic Material Review Institute) certified.

Or here

Two of my favorite brands, these are made from plant oils. But please remember, most bugs including those little brown ants and garden spiders will eat Aphids, and others. Best NOT to kill them.

For grasshoppers, there is a product that introduces protozoa specific to grasshoppers, they ingest it and it kills them, called Nolo Bait, available through Arbico, or here. It does however also kill crickets. I like to hear the crickets at night.

Here is a very simple way to make your own bug sprays from essential oils.

For spiders, ants and most others: Put 15 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil in a 16 ounce spray bottle and fill with water. Spray on the ground around the area you want to protect. Ants and spiders will not cross the barrier you create, but it won’t kill them.

For a non toxic mosquito spray, (DEET the chemical used in many commercial products although considered to be safe, is a neurotoxin, why chance it?): Put 10 drops of Purification Essential Oil in an 8 ounce spray bottle and fill with water. Spray on your skin to repels mosquitoes and other biting bugs.

Remember, anything you put on your skin is absorbed into you blood and dispersed throughout your body. Essential oils actually benefit the body. A 15 Milliliter bottle of essential oils holds about 250 drops, it comes out to less than $2 to make either of these sprays. Very economical.

Let’s all do our part to save the bees!