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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

What’s the Buzz? (AKA: Talking about the birds and the bees




Yesterday was World Bee Day. Despite what many people think, the urban pest control sector is not out to kill all the beneficial insects out there. It’s also no-mow May which encourages people not to mow their lawns to provide nectar and habitat for native pollinators. So let’s talk about the bees!

 

World Bee Day, is a great opportunity to remind everyone of the importance of bees and other pollinators. It’s not just honey bees. In fact, honey bees can be considered an invasive species and they can be pests. People can be allergic to honey bee stings and there are several deaths attributed to the honey bee each year. Like all potential pest problems, it’s about prevention first. Keeping honey bees and other stinging insects away from structures and away from where people spend time outside minimizes the risk of people getting stung while still letting the insects do their beneficial work.


Like any pest problem, it’s also about sanitation. Every school kid knows that bees are after nectar. Nectar comes from flowers. If we add in no-mow May, we have a bit of a problem, especially if the point is to provide native flower growth. Add into that all the “regular” flowers that people plant around homes, business, parks, and more. So is it a good idea to participate in no-mow May and will it protect the bees?


Science says…. Probably not if you are in the US. (Definitely not if you are part of an HOA, they are mean.) It turns out many of the flowering plants (AKA: weeds) in our lawns are not native plants and don’t produce a whole lot of nectar for bees. Plus, most bees feeding on these spring flowers are non-native honey bees, not our native bee species or other non-bee pollinators.

 

It’s not hopeless. Urban pest control and pollinators can co-exist. When using pesticides, much of the application is done inside a structure to control indoor pests or pests that have gotten indoors. That doesn’t mean we should just indiscriminately spray a bunch of pesticides indoors. Applications should be targeted. While professionals are used to doing this, the DIY stuff you can buy at any big box store is typically applied by homeowners in broad areas and without reading the label.


Outside applications should occur when there is reason. Many pest control companies still apply outside treatments regularly. While on the surface that may not sound like a “reasonable” thing to do, it is okay. Those applications occur in spring when the first round of spring pests emerge. Then they take place in the summer when outside insects are just about at their peak. The last treatment usually occurs in autumn when pests are looking for a way inside to sleep away the winter. These treatments are made right around the structure, not a washdown of the walls and lawn. Once again, homeowners are not held to the same standard, nor are they regulated.

 

I won’t get into situations where honey bees need to be removed or agricultural issues associated with bees. That's another very long post.

 

Bottom line: professional urban pest control is not killing off bees or native pollinators and no-mow May isn’t exactly helping. Pesticides need to be used responsibly by ANYONE who is using them. If you want to improve your program, save the bees, and use pesticides more effectively, we do that. Contact us and get the buzz!


Lagniappe - oops.


Urban pest consulting

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