- bees love clover - especially bumblebee species
- it's fragrant
- it requires little mowing yet looks beautiful - mow 2 or 3 times a year
- it provides good green cover during drought spells
- eventually, the clippings when mown, are an excellent natural fertilizer for other plants in your garden. You can also use the clippings as a mulch.
Encouraging clover to spread in your lawn. It has a number of benefits to both humans and bees!
r: Converting from a grass lawn into a clover lawn. Doing a google search turned up the tidbit that clover lawns are trendy this year. I guess clover lawns used to be an American tradition in the early 20th century, too.
The benefits of clover lawns are numerous:
Now imagine that you added some wildflowers and a fungal growth enhancer....
Increasing frustration among beekeepers over widespread deaths of bees led to a class-action lawsuit against the makers of neonicotinoids, a pesticide used to treat grains such as corn and soybeans, says the lawyer leading the case.
The proposed class-action lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the Ontario Superior Court against manufacturers Bayer Cropscience Inc. and Syngenta Canada Inc., and their parent companies by Sun Parlor Honey Ltd. and Munro Honey, two of Ontario's largest honey producers.
Under Ontario law, all beekeepers are included in the class action unless they seek to be excluded, Lascaris said in an interview with CBC’s The Exchange with Amanda Lang.
Dimitri Lascaris, a lawyer and partner at Siskinds, is leading the class action for the honey producers. (CBC)
Neonicotinoids have been under suspicion for some years in the collapse of bee colonies. But while Health Canada is studying the issue, it has been slow to act.
Now, evidence is mounting to show that the pesticides affect the nervous system of bees, causing them to have trouble navigating.
“There’s been an accumulation of scientific evidence culminating in the release of a study this summer, which was particularly important – the task force on systemic pesticides,” Lascaris said.
“The lack of regulatory action in Canada was also a factor. Beekeeper frustration was such that this was deemed to be an essential step.”
The plaintiffs have asked for $400 million on behalf of beekeepers across Canada, he said.
Ban or abolish the pesticides, lawyer saysLascaris said Bayer and Syngenta, as the parties making money from neonicitinoids, have a responsibility to anyone who might be affected by the bee deaths.
“They have to be concerned about all the constituencies they are affecting. The beekeepers have been devastated by this. You have to recall there is a bigger picture behind all of this and that is that 30 per cent of our food supply depends on pollinators,” he told CBC.
“Not only is this industry being devastated, the one represented in this litigation, but community of Canada’s food supply as a whole is at risk. The manufacturers of these products do have a responsibility to be cognizant of those interests as well and not just those of the persons who are using the product.”
It won’t be necessary to show neonicotinoids are solely responsible for the deaths, only that they contribute to them, he said.
A class action in the U.S. in 2002 failed to get certification, but Lascaris believes the scientific evidence is now far more compelling.
Unfortunately, class action legislation is slow to get through the courts, Lascaris said and it would be preferable if a regulator banned neonicotinoids.
“What we really need to do ultimately is suspend the use of these products and quite possibly abolish them. Allowing them to be used unrestricted in the agricultural regions of the country is having devastating effects on our clients and I don’t know of any effort on the part of the pesticide industry to put a stop to that,” he said.
Now street-side gardens are relatively common. Faced with a weedy or barren eyesore, homeowners have the burden of planting and watering the patch of ground themselves. The parking strip, the parkway, the tree lawn -- forget what to call it. Who actually owns it? Are these miniature gardens really allowed? And if so, which plants should be used?
Contrary to popular belief, officials say, the city does not own the parking strip (more on this later). Most cities do regulate trees on the strip and maintain them as staffing allows. In many cases, however, any landscaping beyond those trees -- be it grass, flowers or shrubs -- is left to the homeowner to plant and maintain.
Some councils promote turf alternatives in the parking strips,
Though those rules are still on the books, times and tastes have changed.
"In the late 1970s and early 1980s, gardeners started using water-wise, better-suited plants such as common yarrow [Achillea millefolium] in place of turf grass," . With thousands of miles of residential roadways and only five landscape architects, the Department of Public Works can't review every parking strip. Instead, follow these unofficial guidelines:
"Plant low-growing plants, no more than 6 to 12 inches high, and the city won't make a big deal.
"Use plants that match the aesthetics of the yard, but don't let it get out of hand. Avoid thorny things. Keep shrubby plants below 30 inches -- no tall hedges or solid green walls, especially near driveways and street corners."
CITIES' rules and approaches to enforcement can seem inconsistent, partly because of the complex question of who controls the parking strip. State code says a homeowner's property includes the sidewalk and parking strip. But, he adds, because the land is a public right of way, if it's not cared for properly, the Department of Public Works can revoke the permit.
how much water does the average lawn use?Many plants are much tougher than you think and will go for quite long periods without additional watering. This also has the effect of training your plants to be more sustainable. Less frequent watering forces roots down to find water, making the plants less reliant on surface water and better able to stand hot, dry days. Also, check the four-day forecast at the Bureau of Meteorology. If there's rain in the forecast, let the rain do your watering for you.
How much to water? A significant number of garden plants are drought tolerant and, even in drought conditions, will not need additional watering once established. You might think of old abandoned homesteads in the bush where established plants have survived for decades. With your existing plants we suggest you experiment with watering less and then not at all and observe them for signs of stress, including wilting and leaf fall.
Think about what this means for manual and automatic watering systems. Does your entire garden need watering? Can you zone plants that need more or less water into areas so you can focus watering on the areas that really need it?
If you have plants that need more water as soon as the weather warms up could they be moved to a cooler area or protected from drying winds? Could they be replaced with drought tolerant plants this autumn that will have a similar appearance and style?
Accepted wisdom is you should not water too often. Giving the lawn a proper drink, less often, encourages deeper root growth and means your grass will be more able to withstand heat stress and dry periods.
Most people overestimate how much water their lawn needs. Grass is shallow rooted and rarely extends more than 25mm into the soil. Put more water than this on your soil and it's not helping your lawn or your water bill. Lawn does not need to be watered again until the soil dries out.
the beauty of buzzing meadows is that the wildflowers and clovers actually extend deeper into the soil allow for a far more drought tolerant situation.
As the California drought persists, Water Districts are ramping up their outreach with more information on drought tolerant landscaping and cash for grass programs. In the City of Palo Alto that is not an offer to Stanford students for their stash, but a generous offer of $4 per square foot to homeowners who will rip out their lawn.
Of course they could just install buzzing meadows!
What's causing the honey bee deaths we've seen in recent years? Why are so many bees dying, and why have so many bees disappeared?
The interaction between agriculture and bees is a sensitive one. The balance is very precise, as is the ecology. Bees feed on pollen and nectar, while many crops need bees for pollination. But the agricultural habitat is not a natural one and does not provide optimal living conditions for bees. Large parts of the agricultural landscape are dedicated to single crops, some of which are treated with pesticides, which help to preserve the crops.
In the past few years, Europe has experienced a decline in the health of managed honey bees which has resulted in damage to colonies and populations. Many different possible causes have been suggested and promoted. But the overall scientific consensus is that the health decline is caused by many different factors acting together, and principal among them are the parasitic mite Varroa, viruses carried by mites, Nosema ceranae, and the loss of suitable habitats and nutrition. The declines in Europe and the USA are not replicated in other regions. The total number of honeybee colonies globally has increased by approximately 45% since 1969 according to FAO data.
The bee is a unique and vital insect in our world and all those involved in agriculture need to work together to establish and understand the causes of its plight and to take decisive action to ensure its survival.
Pesticides and Bees: the Bigger PictureThe relationship between pesticides and bees is extremely complex, and would probably take several dozen posts to fully discuss. Earlier, I mentioned detections of specific pesticides in Mullin, 2010 and I’d like to return to that point. This study reported a high amounts of imidacloprid in one sample, but neonicotinoids were found in less than 10% of the samples tested. When they were found, they were far below the levels which caused harm (Blacquiere et. al, 2012). While neonicotinoids didn’t appear in the concentrations or frequency which could cause harm, the team found that multiple types of pesticides (mainly pyrethroids and organophosphates) can approach LD50 levels in honeybee colonies. We’d reasonably expect sublethal effects in the colonies where they reach these levels. Often, these are found with fungicides which will synergize their activities by blocking the enzymes bees use to detoxify them. The effects of the miticides on bees are similarly in question, given their frequent and high detections in colonies. A lot of pesticides are found in honeybee colonies and based on pesticide survey data the USDA actually suggests that pyrethroid insecticides are a higher risk to honeybee colonies than are neonicotinoids. Ironically, Lu cited this report but did not discuss this conflict between his data and the views of the larger community.
Frank loves bees.
Neonicotinoids are a small subsection of the pesticide story. Pesticides are a very small part of the CCD story, and are a small part of the overall honeybee health story. Landscape changes due to agricultural intensification and urbanization can change the diversity of the available food, which can change the physiological status of the bees. Bees are kept in crowded, stressed conditions and are driven cross-country where they will come into contact with other bees. This creates an opportunity for rapid disease transmission to new populations, and creates conditions which favors strains of existing diseases evolving to become more virulent. Pesticides act as a stressor on top of all these. Because there are so many interacting factors, it is generally believed that there is no ‘One True Cause’ of CCD.
The story of CCD is a serious one, and it should be discussed in the public sphere. What disturbs me about this discussion is that the Lu paper discussed above has managed to go viral among the media outlets not because it’s quality science but because it fits an anti-pesticide narrative that the media has become increasingly comfortable with. The standard neonicotinoid narrative is convenient because it makes the situation simpler…a single problem, and a single solution which involves banning a single substance. However the real pesticide story involves dozens of compounds with wildly different uses, which interact with biological and environmental factors which are still poorly understood at best. The neonicotinoid story is just as complex because they likely don’t cause problems in all crops, but issues with proper use and application rates still need to be sorted out. There’s also a human component in some systems which is never discussed, where neonicotinoids frequently replace pesticides more toxic to people like organophosphates. Unfortunately, Lu’s research does nothing to highlight legitimate issues with these pesticides in particular. The thing that perhaps makes people the most uncomfortable, is that unlike climate change or evolution, the issues discussed here are not a case of settled science and continue to evolve as we better understand these factors.
Global Crisis: Honeybee Population on the Decline
For years, the honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) population has been decreasing, and although some people may not realize it, this decline poses a major threat to global agriculture and our future. After doing my research, I realized that the idea of human/hand pollination did not seem as bizarre and unlikely as it first had, and in fact, in some areas of the world, hand pollination is an everyday, normal task.
The Colony Collapse Disorder
Beginning in 2006, beekeepers began to notice an unusual decrease and disappearance in their honeybee colonies. It seemed as if thousands of honeybees were vanishing into thin air. There were no traces left behind and no dead bees were being found near the colonies. Since then, more than30% (and for some unlucky beekeepers, up to 90%) of the honeybee colonies have been disappearing each year, including many worker bees that are vital to the colonies' survival and prosperity. As more and more of the worker bees disappear, their colonies become weak and soon, they are no longer able to function. Due to the collapse of the colonies, this phenomenon is properly named the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). There are many proposed causes for this syndrome, including: the use of pesticides and insecticides, such as neonicotinoid; the influx of the varroa mite; the spread of diseases and viruses; poor nutrition; habitat loss; and stress factors, such as migratory stress.
So, why is the decline in honeybees such a serious issue, and why are honeybees so important?
Honeybees are one of the world's leading pollinators, for they are responsible for $30 billion a year in crops, and we depend on them and other pollinators for one-third of our food supply. Without bees, our produce sections in supermarkets would look bare- with up to 50% less fruit and vegetables- and our favorite foods, such as apples, carrots, lemons, onions, broccoli, and not to mention honey, would become a luxury of the past.
How can we protect our beloved bees?
I made my pledge to "maintain a pollinator-friendly zone in my yard, park, garden or community space," so now, what are you going to do to save our bees? If you think that the bee situation will never get to the point where hand pollination is deemed necessary, think again, because in parts of the world such asChina, this is already becoming a reality. For those of you who have never hand-pollinated a plant, let me tell you from experience that it is one of the most painstaking and tedious jobs out there!
Boyle, Alan ‘Human Pollination'? Sting operation uses social media to benefit bees June 21, 2013 NBC News
Grossman, Elizabeth "Declining Bee Populations Pose a Threat to Global Agriculture" April 30, 2013 Yale Environment 360
"Pesticide Issues in the works: Honeybee colony collapse disorder" May 15, 2012 United States Environmental Protection Agency
"US Report: Many causes for dramatic bee disappearance (Update)" May 2, 2013
vanEngelsdorp, Dennis, et al "Colony Collapse Disorder: A Descriptive Study" Public Library of Science
Hi, I live in North Norfolk, UK. We a problem area on a bank at the back of the house that gets little sun. It is constantly clogged with moss.Do you think your product might be adaptable to here? The soil is sandy with some clay. Thanks
Hi , I will be honest and say I don't know as I have not tried those conditions. However, as buzzing meadow is a blend of different plants it is more likely to be able to adapt to this than monoculture grass. Furthermore the mycorhizae growth enhancer does wonders. I guess what I am trying to say is this is something to try and see.I would bet better than even money that this will solve your problem area. Check the photos onthe campaign. the product is thriving under a gumtree, on clay where nothing was growing before!! As you are in the UK I am unsure whether I can ship seeds to you. But if the campaign is successful I will get local distribution setup for the US and UK.