Systemic Pesticides and bees

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Systemic Pesticides and bees

Post  JimLewis on Thu Nov 05, 2015 10:08 pm

I don't know where I've had my head buried, but I just heard today about the potential anger to bees from SYSTEMIC pesticides.  I know lots of you tout systemics for your bonsai, but you might take a second look.  At least one class of systemic -- the neonicotinoids -- is reported to be making significant contributions to bee hive collapse. 

I don't use them (which is why perhaps I haven't paid attention) and know very little about systemics, but it seems to me that if these chemicals infuse themselves throughout the plant all of them -- not just the neonicotinoids -- might affect the pollen and thus come into direct contact with the bee.

READ THE LABEL.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Systemic Pesticides and bees

Post  Dave Murphy on Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:08 pm

Right. I don't use chemical insecticides on any flowering trees because of this very issue.

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Re: Systemic Pesticides and bees

Post  JudyB on Fri Nov 06, 2015 4:37 pm

Exactly so, I do not use these products on trees that flower. But I do use them on the rest of the herd...

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Re: Systemic Pesticides and bees

Post  coh on Fri Nov 06, 2015 6:45 pm

Yeah, you know...in the overall scheme of things, the relatively small number of us using these systemic pesticides on our bonsai collections is most likely not going to have a big impact on the environment. It's when they are applied on large scales like golf courses or orchards, or when joe schmo decides to use it to protect the mature flowering trees/shrubs in his yard that it becomes an issue.

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Re: Systemic Pesticides and bees

Post  JimLewis on Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:12 pm

1.  Judy:  ALL bonsai flower.  It;s just that some flowers are very inconspicuous.  Some are pollinated by wind, but most need an insect as a pollinator.

2.  Coh . . . That is very true, but the bees that come to your azalea/quince/wisteria/cherry/plum/etc. bonsai, take that pollen SOMEWHERE (to the hive).  One dead hive may not be an international ecological issue, but there IS a moral/ethical aspect -- at least in my mind.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Systemic Pesticides and bees

Post  coh on Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:20 pm

JimLewis wrote:
2.  Coh . . . That is very true, but the bees that come to your azalea/quince/wisteria/cherry/plum/etc. bonsai, take that pollen SOMEWHERE (to the hive).  One dead hive may not be an international ecological issue, but there IS a moral/ethical aspect -- at least in my mind.

Sure, no debate there. But, a causative link between neonic pesticides and colony collapse hasn't been proven, as far as I know. And we don't know how much it takes to cause a problem. Most bee hives have tens of thousands of bees, if 5 or 10 visit a bonsai that has been treated with these pesticides, is that small amount of chemical going to cause a problem? I don't think anyone can really answer that with certainty at this point.

So my approach is to only use these types of pesticides as a last resort, especially for trees that bloom. If a direct link becomes more clear, I'll reevaluate.

coh
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Re: Systemic Pesticides and bees

Post  JudyB on Wed Nov 11, 2015 8:29 pm

I have never seen a bee on any of my non flowering (you know what I mean...) bonsai. I have tons of flowering stuff in my landscape, and have hoards of many many different types of bees. I planted a edible landscape for the bees, and the local birds and critters. So I think that you have to take in to consideration the context of how these systemics are used by each individual. I believe there can be conscientious use of systemics, however most of the applications are not as narrow in their usages.

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Re: Systemic Pesticides and bees

Post  Leo Schordje on Sat Nov 21, 2015 4:00 pm

In my reading for Organic Agriculture, read an extension service bulletin discussing why seeds must be organically sourced in order to gain organic farm certification. Neonicitinoids, imidiproclid (Merit, Bayer tree & shrub), are commonly used as a coating for seed corn, the imidiproclid could still be detected in the mature plant and resulting corn at harvest time, in biologically significant levels, even though no further additions of pesticide were used. All neonicitinoids are incredibly persistent. They don't break down very quick, and the plant's chemistry hangs on to them.

Bees do harvest pollen from wind pollinated plants. Studies from corn and soybean fields show that bees will harvest corn pollen, even though it is a wind pollinated plant that does not need bees to be pollinated. Bees to some degree are opportunistic, if there is a shortage of easy to harvest pollen of flowering plants, bees will harvest from wind pollinated plants if they are "hungry" enough. In this way they are being exposed to chemicals and GMOs that in theory they should not be exposed to. In addition bees seek out plant waxes for hive construction. Plants create waxes from the break down products of metabolism, any pesticides inside the plant tissues may be incorporated whole, or partially broken down into the waxes. The surface of leaves of most plants contain waxes, bees will scratch and collect waxes from many different plants, some flowering, some not. Another way bees are exposed to chemicals that initially were thought to not be a threat to them by the way they were used.

In all probability Colony Collapse Disorder is likely a condition with multiple causes. The bee's version of their immune system fails due to stresses such as neonicotinoids, bee viruses, virola mite, other pesticides and fungicides accumulating in their bodies.  Then they are susceptible to diseases that normally would not be fatal. The lack of biodiversity in the modern monoculture agricultural landscape, with  the diminishing availability of naturally occurring wild plant nectar, pollen sources, and fungus that bees fed on, that had protective value for the bee's version of an immune system. (bee immune response is not at all like a mammal's immune system). There is a group in Oregon that is demonstrating that bees who harvest exuded liquids from native Polypore fungi have more robust immune response, Biodiversity is key to healthy bees.

And lastly, in a study in Wisconsin, the 2nd most significant source of pesticides in the run-off water flowing into Lake Mendota, near Madison, pesticides used around the urban homes actually had a contribution nearly equal to the run off from the agricultural fields. At the time of the study, only 40% of the drainage area was urban or suburban. So back yard run off was as significant as farm run off. What we use in our back yards does add up. Every home gardener I know has accumulated a collection of old, no longer being used pesticides, and where they end up is a major problem.

So while one persons' back yard is not a big deal, by shear numbers our collective behavior does add up to significant effects. We should really try to use the least toxic chemical we can.

Now I have to figure out what to do about the pound of Merit I have, now that Jim caused me to think about this issue. I am as guilty as anyone of buying more pesticide than I need, and of using it for a while, then moving on to the "next great cure all". So while this may come off as a rave, I am not innocent of the very deed I rail against.

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Re: Systemic Pesticides and bees

Post  JimLewis on Sat Nov 21, 2015 4:24 pm

Very good post.  Thanks.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Systemic Pesticides and bees

Post  Precarious on Sun Nov 22, 2015 1:32 pm

Doesn't sound like a rave to me, Leo.  Good information to think about.  Thanks for bringing this up, Jim.

However, I'm not sure what I would look for on a label that would tell me to avoid buying that pesticide. Are there any firm recommendations, or is there still a high level of speculation? Any recommendation for sources to read more on this?

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Re: Systemic Pesticides and bees

Post  Leo Schordje on Mon Nov 23, 2015 4:36 am

I am in the early phases of "spinning up" on organic pest control and integrated pest management. (IPM) both organic and conventional. When looking for information on IPM, don't look at hobby websites, go to Agricultural, or Farm Industry websites. Only there will you find current information. By the time the hobby/home gardener websites pick up information, it is 15 to 25 years old at least. Look at websites for professionals in landscape and christmas tree nurseries, or fruit farming. All the diseases that hit our bonsai crab apples, cherries, plums, and apricots (ume) are the same diseases that hit the orchards. The fruit orchard sections of Ag Extension services will have lots of information about the diseases hitting our bonsai. Similarly with pines and the christmas tree farming resources. Michigan State University has a website devoted to Integrated Pest Management, many articles worth reading. No one article is the magic answer. http://www.ipm.msu.edu/ and http://msue.anr.msu.edu/resources/integrated_pest_management_resources .

Every state in the USA has an Extension Service, their specific websites will cover different locally relevant topics. There is a national Extension Website for Organic farming - eOrganic http://articles.extension.org/ that is a good place to start. The webinars by eOrganic are quite helpful. (not for bonsai, but rather for the project I'm involved in). You have to scale down from acres to pots of plants, but the pest control info is current.

Also look at the websites for Pesticide Applicators License, and RUP certifications (restricted use pesticide certification). Again, the info is farm orientated, but the whole concept of only spraying when pests have hit a threshold level, and only with sprays targeted to the pests. Applying repeat sprays at intervals based on the life cycle of the actual insect involved. (it gets so deep as to time spraying to degree days, as temperature affects the growth rate of the insects). And there are articles on biologic, and environmental controls for pests that are well worth reading.

I have not caught up yet, I'm just beginning my reading. So I am merely pointing to where I am looking for answers.

National Organic Handbook http://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/handbook

The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for use in Organic Agriculture - the info is dense, but official and current  http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=9874504b6f1025eb0e6b67cadf9d3b40&rgn=div6&view=text&node=7:3.1.1.9.32.7&idno=7

Oddly enough Bayer has come out with a line of Certified Organic pest control sprays, where all components are on the National List of Approved Substances http://www.bayeradvanced.com/find-a-product/rose-flower-care/natria-disease-control

I can't find the link I was looking for to a company that sells predator insects for biological controls of various insect pests. But there are predatory insects available in quantities large enough to service organic farmers if they choose to use predatory insects to handle pests. And it wasn't just lady bugs and lacewings, the array of insects was surprising. I'll post the link when I find it.

But the principle of Integrated Pest Management is the direction I would try to utilize for my bonsai, once I've learned enough to be able to look at a pest, and say .....that's how I'd solve the problem. Unfortunately, I am not there yet.

Unfortunately, some organic approved sprays are just as bad for bees as chemical sprays, so even there you need to read the fine print.

All this stuff makes my brain hurt. Wink it is an awful lot to plow through. But if you try to digest it in small chunks, it will all make sense eventually.

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Re: Systemic Pesticides and bees

Post  Leo Schordje on Mon Nov 23, 2015 4:41 am

So the end result of the post above is - I don't know - yet. That was helpful, wasn't it?

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Re: Systemic Pesticides and bees

Post  JudyB on Tue Nov 24, 2015 12:30 pm

All this information is very helpful and thought provoking, thanks Jim and Leo.

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Re: Systemic Pesticides and bees

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Tue Nov 24, 2015 5:56 pm

This worked on the tomatoes.

Garlic spray - ground garlic in water, decanted and sprayed.

The bonsai are in full sun and the pests are -

[1] Bachacs - leaf cutting ants - citrus peels in insecticide will kill the queen when it is fed to her, end of nest.

[2] Brown Grasshoppers - encouraged in birds - end of even 4" long monsters

[3] Neem spray handles the rest.

Nature destroys the ill, so I do my best to keep the trees healthy. Sun and light breezes, compost in the soil, good drainage and lots of love.

AND for humans - mosquitoes - bring in the dragonflies and bats. Some Basil or Lemon Balm here and there also helps.
I also make a menthol wipe [ commercial cooling wipes - called Limacol down here - add in some more menthol ] for insects lasts about 2 hours
and helps with my summer heat rash. I am getting so English as I get older, the humidity [ 80 to 70 % ] is too much Laughing Laughing Laughing

I have also learnt to control the young extensions, that can be too rapid and very soft as shoots go, bugs love them.
Laters
Khaimraj

[ See Rodale on-line. ]

Khaimraj Seepersad
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