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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Chilton County, AL, USA
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    3

    Default A question about gardening with bees

    I am extremely new to beekeeping. I just got my garden planted, and I also just inherited an established hive. I have read that all pesticides are a no-no, so how do I keep the bugs from devouring my garden? Are there any acceptable chemicals? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Novato, CA
    Posts
    554

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    Your pesticide free garden will bring in beneficial bugs who will keep the 'bad' bugs in check. Not as well as spraying the life off everything, but you can feel a lot better about supporting a healthy environment. You can do other things with your veggies too, if you have them, like rolled up newspaper to collect bugs in the morning, or covers. I watch the tiny little birds come in and pick the aphids off my roses every season and no longer spray. But I also prune early, prune aggressively if I see leaf mold starting. Remember, organic also means 'real' compost and soil.. I use my table scraps and have a compost bin to make it. It all works together and there are tons of information on the net you can search for.

    I do use snail bait, the kind that is not toxic to animals, but that is basically it. My garden is fabulous and full of life. I have all veggies, berries, citris, apples and lots and lots of flowers. And at this point 9 hives but some are nucs I'll be selling off in a few weeks. Good luck to you!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Chilton County, AL, USA
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    Thanks CB, I'm starting to research organic methods. It will be different from what I'm used to, but I love a challenge!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
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    1,310

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    Also available for organic, and "bee friendly" methods is the decades-old beer-filled slug trap (fill a beer cap with beer & set in the garden...next day it's ringed in dead slugs), and the "last option" method of spraying tobacco "tea" on plants that are badly infested with damaging insects. On the tobacco "tea", however, be aware that the nicotine in the tobacco is insecticidal to ALL insects, so don't spray it on anything that's blooming or you may end up poisoning your pollinators (i.e. honey bees), use it after dark to minimize impact on your bees, and ONLY use it when you're in danger of losing a plant, as it will kill the beneficial insects that are trying to *help* you control the infestation, right along with the insects that are part of the infestation. My personal intent is to get away from using the tobacco tea, along with the other insecticides I've already stopped using, but I'll readily admit that it takes some real time to get your beneficial count up high enough to control the infestations for you

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    320

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    Since honey bees will visit 100 to 1000 of the same flower in one trip, we usually don't have enough of any one flower in our yards/garden to entice them. However, not knowing that, I planted "bee friendly" flowers and herbs, i.e. borage, herbs, etc., and all last summer my yard was alive with an amazing assortment of all sizes of bees, flies, wasps and other pollinators and "good" bugs that did a great job of keeping the "bad" bugs under control. I've learned to appreciate a much wider variety of insect and bird life than ever before--the little sparrows and chickadees sit on my fence and eat aphids and other insects. Many diseases like mildew can be controlled or prevented with sprays of milk or baking soda or compost tea. Most diseases and pests attack the weakest, unhealthiest plants, so the healthier the plants, the less problems. Even spraying diluted molasses on your soil will feed and encourage all the beneficial microbes in the soil that act as an interface dissolving the soil nutrients and making them available to the plants. The "web of life" is fascinating and amazing the more you learn about it!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    599

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    Sad thing is the fact that the honeybees tend to forage on weeds. I try to keep them out of my garden.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,716

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    Since the bees only forage on blooms, and only in the daytime, you can still apply certain insecticides if you time the application correctly. Horticultural oil is one of those that can be safe for bees if you do it correctly. Apply oil after the bees have gone home for the night. More info here:
    http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/TOOLS/PNA...show.php?id=39

    I do agree that the more compost you can work into the garden soil, the healthier your plants will be, and better able to resist their pest attackers. However, the best improvement in soil with applied compost does not happen in just one season, it is a longer term project.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    980

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    The more healthy your organic soil is, the less pests will bother them.

    Year before last i did and experiment: I had a bed of broccoli planted in a bed with well developed organic soil.
    I had a couple extra plants left over after transplanting into that bed, so I put them in a newly dug bad that had had nothing done to develop good organic soil.

    Later in the year when the bugs were chomping broccoli leaves, the organic broccoli was nearly untouched, with one or two small pinholes in the leaves, while the broccoli that was put in the bed in which the soil hadn't been fed organically prior to planting looked like lace, it had so many holes eaten in it.

    Apparently insect predators target the weak plants in much the same coyotes or wolves target the weak or injured animals in a herd when they are hunting.

    So, if you feed your soil and have healthy plants, you are unlikely to need pesticides.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    San Diego, CA USA
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    I found planting chives will scare cabbage moths away from nearby plants, and peppermint has worked for me keeping aphids off my plants and mites away from my chickens. Cedar mulch will stop ants. I'm still looking for something to scare the pillbugs away though.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    Quote Originally Posted by Fantasticp View Post
    I'm still looking for something to scare the pillbugs away though.
    What damage do they do? I have thousands of them all over my property, mostly hiding under any scrap of wood I leave lying around, but haven't seen 'em mess with anything alive :/

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Spicewood, Texas, USA
    Posts
    232

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    I have an entirely organic property. When I first switched over, it did take some time for everything to achieve a balance. I never have to use pesticides in my yard or garden. There's always something a little more in abundance than the previous year, and this keeps things in balance. One year I had tons of spiders, for example. One year I had tons of lizards. I had a lot of snakes last year, and on and on. You get the picture.

    It all takes care of itself in that regard if you give it time.

    Sondra

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    San Diego, CA USA
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    Quote Originally Posted by robherc View Post
    What damage do they do? I have thousands of them all over my property, mostly hiding under any scrap of wood I leave lying around, but haven't seen 'em mess with anything alive :/
    They crawl up and eat small seedlings like cucumbers completely leaving only the stem when they are so small they only have the 2 proto leaves. They also sit munching on my potato leaves all day long, but the potatoes are so big it really isn't a problem. They ate ALL of my cucumbers this year, and they were in large pots too, not in the ground. The little bastards wander right up the side of the pot and help themselves. They will also pick on my green beans when they are really small, but usually the green beans outgrow the sensitive range before they are completely destroyed.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Spicewood, Texas, USA
    Posts
    232

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    Pill bugs do that? When I see that kind of damage here, it's because of grasshoppers.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
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    1,310

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    I see crickets, grasshoppers, and various descriptions of caterpillars & "worms" (moth larvae) doing plenty of that...haven't caught the pill bugs at it; though I've seen plenty of them within a foot or two of some freshly sprouted plants that haven't been damaged at all in that way

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    81

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    Quote Originally Posted by SRBrooks View Post
    I have an entirely organic property. When I first switched over, it did take some time for everything to achieve a balance. I never have to use pesticides in my yard or garden. There's always something a little more in abundance than the previous year, and this keeps things in balance.

    It all takes care of itself in that regard if you give it time.
    That's been my experience also... haven't sprayed any pesticide, even the organic ones, on my gardens for years and the health, quality, and productivity has only gotten better from one year to the next. I also see types of wasps and bees that I never used to see before.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Sacramento, CA,USA
    Posts
    46

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    Quote Originally Posted by CaBees View Post
    ...............
    I do use snail bait, the kind that is not toxic to animals, but that is basically it. My garden is fabulous and full of life. I have all veggies, berries, citris, apples and lots and lots of flowers. And at this point 9 hives but some are nucs I'll be selling off in a few weeks. Good luck to you!
    What kind are you using? I need to get more as I just used the last of my powder, however, after finding a dead honeybee with its proboscis out the day after applying the bait, I don't want to use the same kind. I was thinking of switching to the liquid pellet style.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Long Beach, CA USA
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    The safe snail bait's active ingredient is iron phosphate. It's sold as Sluggo or from Gardens Alive as Escar-Go!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    Or just set out a capfull of beer. That's what my father always used in his garden (well, and about 5000 times as much in his gut, but that's a different story) and within 2 days the cap full of beer would be surrounded by a ring of dead slugs & snails.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Sacramento, CA,USA
    Posts
    46

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    Thanks kathryn,
    looks like Home Depot sells Sluggo. I'll give it a try.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,872

    Default Re: A question about gardening with bees

    The screens on my house windows are not tight fitting. I open a few windows at night for cooling air to be brought in by running the make-shift whole house fan I've got. One of the windows needed to open is my kitchen sink window, which has a light over the sink that I have on at night. The bugs come in and cover the ceiling and counters around the sink. Today I sprayed around the outside window frames and screen with a kitchen friendly insecticide. It did not work, so I then went to my front flower bed and picked some spearmint I have growing there, and rubbed it on my window screens. It worked great, no more bugs coming in for the lights. Tomorrow I'm making up a spearmint tea and am going to spray it on the front porch area, around all my windows, and around the over hanging eaves of the house. I have great hopes it will get rid of the bugs around my house proper. I don't know how it would work in the garden but suspect it would work well.

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