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Opinions and observations from environmental experts, activists, and luminaries

This is something I never thought about.. I actually feed the Bees but I do it out of laziness and by accident by just not trimming and cutting back most of my garden and thats the best way for my garden to reseed itself.
I do have several of the herbs but no Kale.
When I found the leaf cutter bees liked the new growths on my roses I started to cut them back a little more often so they could have more tender leaves to eat. I have lots of roses and they dont go too crazy or kill the plants like some people say they do. My Husband thought I was crazy because I didnt get bent out of shape over their penchant for my roses.
I never really realized how much I always look forward to seeing my Bees.. I have Honey Bees, Bumble Bees and Leaf cutter Bees in my yard most of the year. Now I think I will pay more attention to feeding the Bees. I think this is a great idea!

The bees also seem to have a penchant for wild mustard and wild radish flowers. I've been letting them grow in certain areas, and there is always a large buzzing population surrounding these plants in particular. They love the flowering peppermint!

Well written, informative article, Alwyn! I feel inspired to try some focused bee feeding in our little patch of Oakland.
Thanks! Pegga

Peggy, thanks! Tell me, did you, me, all my friends, sister, mother, not the least the editor, not catch the typo at the start of the article? I'm FAIRLY certain I did not write the article THAT way! Makes me look more iggerant 'n I already am. :-) Something lost in google-land? For the scholarly types that I directed this way, mea culpa, but it's not my fault!

Feeding the bees is obviously important, but in fact the lack of food is not the problem.

The real problem faced by bees is the massive quantity of pesticides - particularly Bayer's neo-nicotinoids - being applied to farm crops and in domestic gardens as seed dressings and sprays.

This family of insecticides is extremely toxic to insects, and because they are systemic, they are present in all parts of the plant. So, if you plant a sunflower that has had its seed coated in Clothianidin (a neonicotinoid seed treatment) it is very possible - even probable that the pollen of your mature sunflower will contain enough toxin to kill bees. This very thing happened in France on a large scale, before the French beekeepers managed to have Bayer's licence to sell their seed treatment product (Gaucho) in France.

In May of this year, something like half a BILLION bees were killed in Germany by Bayer's Clothianidin seed dressing, after treated maize seeds were sown over a large area using badly-adjusted seed drills. 7000 beekeepers were wiped out.

Neonicotinoids have been used in the USA and Canada since about 2004, just when so-called Colony Collapse Disorder began to appear. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Neonicotinoids are lethal to bees in concentrations as low as around 5 parts per billion. That is equivalent to ONE TEASPOON of pesticide in ONE THOUSAND METRIC TONNES of water or feed syrup.

Look out for hidden or disguised pesticides in garden products. Some brands of potting compost now contain 'vine weevil treatment', which is Imidacloprid - another neonicotinoid with similar toxicity. If you put such compost on your garden, it has the potential to kill virtually all the living things in your soil, including earthworms.

So, the best thing you can do for bees is not to feed them, but to STOP using pesticides and tell all your friends to do the same - especially anything that contains Imidacloprid or Clothianidin or any of the other neonicotinoids.

There is plenty of information on the wen about neonicotinoids - check the Wikipedia entry for a start.

Phil Chandler

I have a bunch wild daisies (weeds) in the yard. The neighbors hate it but the bees are happy :)

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