Earth, Weeds, and Bees – All gifts to be cherished.

The month of April is a month to reconnect with our precious Earth.  This is the month of Earth Day and Arbor Day; days for true reflection on what we as individuals might do to make a difference.  While many of us are able to move in the right direction and find at least a little something that makes us feel a bit more connected there are some who are lost.  Lost in the waste that is all around us.  Perhaps to some it is too painful to acknowledge what we are all doing to the earth.

Few people give a moment’s thought to the millions of micro organisms that live in every spoonful of soil under our feet.  We just can’t see them in the soil so not the slightest thought of the life in that spoonful of soil.  If you have never really given it much thought then imagine that the life of each individual organism is just as important as each individual human being.  Now, if there are 500,000,000 micro organisms in a spoonful of soil, that is more than the population of the United States.  To destroy a spoonful of soil would then be not unlike destroying an entire country.  Remember for us the spoon is small but to the micro organism it is a whole world.  If you were a micro organism living in that spoonful of soil you would be surrounded with life.  There would be creatures of all sizes and shapes, living together, helping each other out; all working to make that spoonful of soil a better place.

As nature would have it these micro organisms in the soil are doing their part to make all that is above ground fit for life.  We often think of the relationship of the bees and the flowers but we rarely think of the relationship of the bees to the soil.  The connection is so much stronger than we think.  The health of all creatures above the soil depends on the creatures below the soil.  These soil organisms feed the plants that feed the bees and ultimately us.  There is an even stronger relationship between the soil and the plants than between us and the plants, because without these little soil workers we would have nothing to eat.  When the soil is sick so are all that use it.  The bees are sick and they are using the same soil that we are.  We need to stop putting chemicals on the soil period.

Let’s go back to the spoon.  How many of us standing on the lawn with a can of spray have the slightest idea what organisms are under our feet?  How many folks at the chemical company know what organisms are under our feet.  How many people have any idea what the overall lasting effect a blast of spray on your spoonful of soil will have?  That is why it is so important to let the weeds grow.  The weeds may feed the creatures in the spoon; we are connected to the earth and the weeds have their place with us here as well.  There are three weeds that we habitually spray on our lawns that deserve to be there; they are dandelions, clover, and plantains.  It is so easy to just let them go to seed then mow them with the grass.  It is beneficial to our pollinators in terms of nectar and pollen that we leave the weeds and not put any chemicals on the lawn.  What goes on the lawn goes in the soil, then into the plants, then into the bees.  And yes the chemicals that weaken the bees to disease are in our home products too.  If we aren’t 100 percent sure what we are killing we shouldn’t be spraying.  I’m 100 percent sure I won’t spray anything because I have no idea what any of those chemicals kill beyond the target and nontarget species listed so proudly on the can.

Blindfolds are for piñatas and pin the tail on the donkey, not spraying in the yard.  Feed the bees… give the soil life… let the weeds grow!

Free Mason Bees – Quick and Easy

Get set up for mason bees or other solitary bees now.

This is the season to get all straightened out for the spring season.  If you have to pull tubes or straws now is a good time to do it.  If you need to order reeds or starter kits there is no time to waste as the season will be here before you know it.  This is also a great time to replace the tubes in your nest blocks.

If this is your first season then you should read this section to get ready.  We have a complete line of books available on the solitary bees and other native pollinators.

If you have ever considered hosting Mason Bees, Hornfaced Bees, Alfalfa Leafcutter Bees, or any other Solitary Bees then check out our page on mason bees.

We always use this time in mid winter to swap out the tubes full of cocoons with fresh parchment paper and store the bees in a box that will be used in the spring as a release box.  View care instructions here.  Lots of folks like to open the tubes, then inspect, and clean the cocoons.  I do not do that; I like to leave them undisturbed in the parchment paper tubes until they emerge.  If you are inspecting and cleaning then that should be done in late summer or early fall.

We have really enjoyed keeping the mason bees; they are so easy.  I can’t think of a better project to do with your children (or children with your parents) than raising solitary bees.  One becomes so much more connected with the earth when one follows the actions of the bee.  You quickly learn to recognize the bees out and about.  You can watch what direction they go.  You can see the pollen under their belly.  And unlike honeybees you can observe the mating.  You get to watch predatory wasps agitating your bees or in time you will be able to differentiate between the mason and the cuckoo bee that is trying to lay eggs in the mason bee nest.  I can’t imagine that when the fascination of what they are doing sets in, that one would not develop a better understanding of the beauty of nature.

As always, I’m here to help you all I can; so contact me if you have any questions and thank you for supporting Daves’ Bees.