Initially, the assumption was that only insecticides affect bees, and most people safely obliged and kept off insecticides; however, the world population of bees continues to decline. The decline in the number of bees accrues to the continuous use of weed killers that are toxic to bees.
Read on to understand the effects of weed killers on bees and how to protect the bees by using a bee safe weed killer.
How Do Herbicides Harm Bees?
Many herbicides contain chemicals that disrupt the bees’ psychological and digestive system; this makes them more vulnerable to infection. Once you spray such a weed killer on blooming crops, the chemicals are gathered together with the pollen then taken back to their hives for foliage.
Once the bees consume such pollen, the whole hive is poisoned. Most will die out while the remaining few will migrate to other safe zones. Considering the importance of bees and other insects in the environment, you must use a weed killer that doesn’t harm the bee ecosystem.
How Can I Protect Bees?
To be honest, a determined farmer yielding a hoe is the best bee-friendly means to kill the weeds you can find. But if we are frank, this heroic mode isn’t always practical. Not everyone has the physical ability and time to weed the garden or farm by hand, especially when dealing with massive acres of land.
Therefore, to reduce the number of weeds in your garden, plan your garden using designs that include grouping plants placed close together to reduce the room for weed flourishing.
Another option is using a weed killer that is generally safe for the environment, including bees. The market has several weed killers, approved by relevant bodies, that are friendly to bees but will get rid of the weeds. However, if possible, you can consider using homemade products made from Neem oil, vinegar, Epsom salt, castile soap, essential oils, and chrysanthemum, as they are friendly to bees but will get rid of the weeds.
Pointers on the Best Way To Use Bee Safe Weed Killers on Gardens and Farms
When it comes to herbicides, it’s always safe to use them with restraint, and only to the extent required to control the undesirable weeds. First, you can research the specific times that are best to use the weed killer to reduce the contact of the bees with the herbicide.
Apply the weed killer at night, early mornings, and in the late evening, which are the times that bees won’t be foraging. Between 8 pm and 8 am, the evening applications lead to minimum bee contact with the weed killer. If there are unusually warm conditions, make the application later in the evening or earlier in the morning. Warm conditions generally increase the foraging period.
Also, a ground application is less hazardous than an aerial application. Mostly because smaller acreages get treated at a time with a reduced drift; keep off spray planes turning over the fields. Especially when blooming weeds are growing. As a good neighbor, alert any nearby beekeeper, if not you, about the application to allow them to confine the bees.
Remember, the above pointers are only appropriate for a bee safe weed killer. Using the same strategy with a toxic herbicide still poses a risk. Even after spraying at night, residue concentrations are still left on the plants and could attract the pollinators.
How Do I Use Bee Safe Weed Killer on Lawns?
It’s always safest to use weed killers when the weeds on your lawn are not blooming. Any spray that ends up on blooming weeds automatically ends up in the bees’ diet. Therefore, you could choose an appropriate time when the weeds are not blooming.
The second alternative is mowing off the weeds on your lawn before you apply the herbicide. Like the garden guideline, do not spray the lawn when it’s windy, do so later in the day, which will prevent it from drifting to flower beds.
Why Protect Bees?
Bees are among the most vital parts in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Here are a couple of reminders why you want to ensure that the bees stay safe as you get rid of weeds.
Each year, bees pollinate billions of plants inclusive of millions of agricultural produce. Every plant requires a bee to transfer pollen from its male part, the anther, to its female, the stigma. Bees do this task when moving from flower to flower when searching for nectar.
Being pollinators, bees are vital to the ecosystem. They support the growth of flowers, trees, and other plants that serve as food for other creatures. The honey is also a food source. Their role in the development of trees also ensures all other wildlife can have a habitat.
Essentially, bees contribute to the complex and interconnected ecosystems that enable many species to coexist.
Why Use a Bee Safe Weed Killer?
Glyphosate is the main compound in herbicides that harm bees. Research on the compound glyphosate has shown that it affects the honeybee’s behavior. Bees who come into contact with such herbicides have less success finding their way back to their hives.
Toxic herbicides also affect the learning ability of bees and make them less sensitive to sugar. Once the bees take pollen with glyphosate in it, it changes their gut microbiome. Many bacteria in a bee’s gut resemble that in plants, making it susceptible to glyphosate.
Exposure to the toxic herbicides decreases the honey bees chances of survival; if you intend to protect them, you need to use a safe bee herbicide.
Kill The Weeds, Not The Bees!
Besides using home-made remedies and traditional methods of getting rid of weeds, you can always opt for bee safe weed killers. These are safe weed killers that have minimal effects on honey bees if used correctly.
Remember, bees are a vital link to not just agriculture but the general ecosystem in their essential role as the primary pollinator. Your plants’ successful growth is also significant to you, but the enemy is the weeds and not the bees. Help save the bees.