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I have flower gardens as well as shrubbery around my house. I need something to kill the weeds around the shrubs and also something to kill whatever is eating the leaves on my flowers. I am reading that there are organic solutions that are safe for honey bees but does not give specifics on what these organic solutions are. Could somebody please recommend solutions? Thanks!
 

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Roundup (glyphosate) is relatively safe for most critters if you do not spray it directly on them. Remember it kills all plants so only get it on the weeds:) Of course a hoe, weedeater, gloves, mulch are the most bee/environmentally friendly. Nearly all "organic" insecticides are no more than some dish soap diluted with water so save your money and mix your own. It will kill most insects.
 

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neem oil from what I have read.
Just make sure you keep it in its tempature range as it does brake down.

http://www.discoverneem.com/neem-bees-beneficial-insects.html
"Weekly use of a neem oil spray at a normal concentration (0.5% - 2%) will not hurt honey bees at all."

This not first hand expirance but just info from what I have seen.

I have used in on fruit trees but at the time I did not have bees. You will need to ad a mild soap to it to get it to work in a sprayer. I think their are some post on amazon IIRC that talk about mixing it.
 

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All pesticides - organic and otherwise - are designed to make their target go away. Most of the time this means kill. Same with herbicides. What you are looking for are substances that are very specific in their target and are used in such a way so as to not pose a danger for honey bees. Some of this will be in the chemical design - some will be "cultural" or how you apply them. Don't believe for a moment that organic when used in conjunction with a pesticide means that it is a safe substance.

Check with your local Cooperative Extension to determine what is damaging the leaves on your flowers and get their suggestions on how to combat particular pests. Many Master Gardeners, like myself, are prohibited from making 'cide recommendations. So seek out a local authority that can make recommendations.
 

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Round Up is not safe -- it just kills fewer bees than some other things do, ergo, they are allowed to label it as "safe for bees".

High acid level vinegar -- acetic acid -- is available and can be used for some things. Some folks in my area also use a solution of Epsom salts in water (high amounts) mixed with liquid dish soap to knock down weeds.

The trick is to use your solution late in the evening, and on still days. DH uses a piece of 4" PVC pipe to cover the target, then sprays inside that to contain the solution. But remember, soapy water is an "approved, safe, and organic" way to exterminate bees. It smothers them.

As for whatever is eating the leaves on your flowers . . . see if your local garden center/nursery sells packages of ladybugs and praying mantis cases. You might also explore some new (very old) ideas like companion planting and trap crops. Interplant marigolds, chives, garlic and mints with other flowers.

I advise a dose of salt when talking with Extension Agents. They ARE wonderful, smart, helpful folks. But they are also human, and prone to human foibles. I live in a rural, ag-based community. I've been working with my agents for several years now to get them to STOP recommending wholesale spraying as the way to deal with EVERTHING. I'm making progress, but they have their own mindset and biases like everyone else. Having said that, let me also say that they have been some of my biggest supporters, keeping my name on file for swarms and cut-outs. I also give talks to various groups, including 4-H, about bees, and keeping, pollination, etc. So, it's up and down.

Good luck with your garden, and remember that weeds are something God planted in your garden -- they are not evil just because you don't want them there. (I'll exempt Johnson grass, bindweed, and grass burrs from that comment.) :D

Summer
 
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