Quick Guide, Nursery Owner Supports Beneficial Insects

Pollinator News                        May 1, 2015

How to Report a Bee Kill

HBHC Logo-Revised jpg-smallThe Pollinator Stewardship Council is a member of the Honey Bee Health Coalition.  As a member of two of the four workgroups, we collaborated with members and defined the process of reporting a bee kill.  The article was published in the May 2015 issue of Bee Culture magazine.  Additionally, the Coalition created a Guide to Reporting a Pesticide-related Bee Kill, also available in the May issue of Bee Culture magazine.

 Bee Culture graciously created 1000 laminated copies of the Guide, which are available from the Bee Culture mag logoPollinator Stewardship Council.  Order your Guide to Reporting a Pesticide-related Bee Kill by requesting a copy here.  One Guide per person, per address.  Copies are limited!

Bee A Reader Program

The Maria L. Baldwin School in Cambridge, MA held a reading challenge last year called “Bee A Reader.” Students were canna beeshallenged to read during the five weeks of this program and to meet or exceed a school wide goal of 5,000 hours. They solicited sponsors from family members, friends and neighbors. During the program, students in all grades learned about the importance of bees to our agriculture, the crisis currently facing them, and the challenges facing bee populations due to pests, pathogens, pesticides, and poor forage.  A local bee keeper visited the school. Students were read the book The Buzz on Bees by Shelley Rotner.

The students raised $1622.00 and read 5,075 hours. When the school met the goal, Mr. Leonardos and Mr. Roderick, our principal and assistant principal dressed in bee costumes. The Maria L. Baldwin School made a final donation of $1,671.18 to support the bee research and rescue work of the Pollinatbeesor Stewardship Council.  The School’s donation will help support our Hive Tracking Project researching the health of bees as they pollinate our crops, and supporting bees on a working farm where we will plant pollinator habitat alongside crops.  The pollinator habitat will provide food for honey bees and native bees pollinating the Squire Valleevue Farm, an educational farm of Case Western Reserve University.  These plantings will educate others as to the success of having pollinators on a working farm.  The Pollinator Stewardship is truly grateful for the donation from the Mary L. Baldwin School.  We appreciate the effort of the teachers and staff at the School for encouraging their students to learn the importance of bees.  This year, the school is participating in Read to Feed through Heifer International.

Honey Bee Health Coalition

Pollinator Stewardship Council, along with representatives from the American Honey Producers Association, and American Beekeeping Federation are members of the Honey Bee Health Coalition.  The Outreach, Education, and Communication Workgroup of the Coalition recently completed an article  and a Quick Guide on how to report a pesticide-related bee kill incident.  (See the lead article in this Pollinator News)  Three other Coalition workgroups are collaborating to address:
•    Crop Pest Management
•    Hive Management
•    Forage and Nutrition Working Group

The strategic goals of the Coalition are to:
•  Improve and sustain honey bee health at all levels of beekeeping
•  Identify and implement novel and proven solutions to major honey bee health challenges
•  Enhance effective communications and collaboration among private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO stakeholders with vested interests in beekeeping, pollination, and agriculture production
•  Institute sound science and evidence for making decisions

The entire Coalition met at the end of April in Durham, N.C. for intensive working sessions to finalize additional activities in support of the Bee Healthy Roadmap (https://www.keystone.org/images/keystone-center/spp-documents/Environment/BeeHealth/Bee-Healthy-Roadmap-October-2014.pdf) .  For more information about the work of the Honey Bee Health Coalition visit their website. (http://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/building-a-coalition/)

Nursery Owner Finds Beneficial Insects Support Her Business

Lady Bird Johnson said, native plants “give us a sense of where we are in this great land of ours.”  Native plants are ideal for landscape plantings, and are specifically adapted to their native regions. They are also less susceptible to pests and diseases, and generally require less maintenance than traditional landscapes. Because maintaining native plants requires less work, they are a good choice for commercial landscapes and residential gardens.  Native plants allow developed landscapes to coexist with nature, rather than compete with it.  This is the working environment of Mary Holcombe, Southern Heritage Nursery owner in South Carolina.

southern heritage nursery logoShe contacted the Pollinator Stewardship Council in appreciation of our work, and a brief conversation became an opportunity to share knowledge and experience with us.  The Southern Heritage Nursery (http://southernheritagenursery.com/ ) is a native tree and shrub nursery.  It is not certified organic but they do not use synthetic pesticides for pest control.  “If I have to spray I use certified organic products,” state Ms. Holcombe.

Other nursery owners are coming under customer pressure to stop spraying with pesticides—especially pollinator harmful pesticides.  But so many pests developed, it has been difficult for the larger nurseries to manage.   But Mary has never sprayed.  So her beneficial insects are strong, balance her nursery environment, and protect her native trees and shrubs from pests.  She has a large amount of preying mantis all over her nursery taking care of the smaller insect pests.  She may have a small out-break of pests, and if she waits, the beneficial insects come in, and take care of the pests.  She has to be patient, and wait for nature to address the pests.

Other nurseries have wiped out the natural balance of life due to spraying pesticides everywhere.  The beneficial insects have no chance to come back to help fight the pests.  The transition to reducing pesticide use is difficult for other nurseries.  It is not about the size of the nursery.  Her nursery is growing—more than double in size this year.  She does not want to disrupt the balance she has now.  As long as she can continue to NOT spray, including even certified organic sprays, her nursery environment will be better for it.  It is different with container-grown plants in the south, as plants are more stressed in containers rather than in the ground, which makes them more susceptible to pests.

She has been leading the Southern Heritage Nursery for three and a half years. She purchased and moved the greenhouses and remaining stock from Laurel Springs Nursery in Hendersonville, N.C. to her property in Greenville County, S.C.  That nursery was established 30 years ago, and the original owner did not use synthetic pesticides. “Wes Burlingame taught me all he knew about how to manage specific pests without spraying, and I also brought with me my years of experience as an organic farmer out west.  Wes did not use synthetic pesticides for the 30 years he operated Laurel Spring Nursery, and neither do I. Having habitat for the beneficials is necessary in the nursery.”   She takes this work as a “responsiblity to her customers, and to nature to be pesticide free, to protect the off-site non target insects.”  It is her job, she feels, to lead the way to provide quality plants and a quality nursery for the community.  

The Southern Heritage Nursery customers are aware she does not use pesticides in the nursery.  Many of her customers are planting specifically to attract pollinators and especially monarchs.  A large portion of her customers seek plants that are not sprayed with pesticides.  Her nursery helps to educate customers about the need to support and plant native plants for native insects, birds, and for water conservation.  
She enjoys her work, the educational side, helping out her regional wild places, and her customers, and the biggest factor is because she chooses NOT to spray.  Mary concluded, “People need to change the way they think about spraying.  The beneficial insects are a part of my business.    A shift needs to occur in understanding the balance of plant protection, insect pests, and beneficial insects.”