Gardeners love creating beauty in the natural world, and are intrinsically interested in the health of plants and the surrounding environment. The importance and health of bees has become a hot topic in recent years.
In 2013 a farm in Oregon applied an insecticide on blooming trees. This was forbidden by the instructions for the chemical’s proper use. In conjunction with the natural toxicity of these trees (Lindens), the pesticide caused large numbers of bees to be killed.
You can learn more about the incident here:
WSU is actively researching the family of chemicals that killed the large number of bees. (Neonicotinoids) To date the research has shown that these pesticides are relatively safe for the environment and people, and are not known to harm bees when applied as directed.
At Squak Mt. we grow many plants in our greenhouses. We do use pesticides, including neonicotinoids, as is necessary to grow healthy, beautiful plants. Pesticide applications are made inside of greenhouses, and we follow all application protocols. Our concern for people (staff and customers) as well as the environment has always been a critical component when selecting the pesticide to be used.
We are involved in ongoing education classes each year to insure that our staff is aware of the latest research. For example our certified pesticide applicators take continuing education courses as provided by the Department of Agriculture. Our retail staff has the opportunity to learn from our local Green Gardening program, which addresses current pest issues, and how they can be solved in the least toxic manner.
The proper selection of pesticides is not always simple. For example one popular group of “organic” insecticides are pyrethrins. Derived from natural sources they are approved for use in organic gardening. The EPA has classified them as possibly being a carcinogen. As such we do not use them at Squak Mt., nor do we sell them as a pesticide solution to customers. At first blush many would consider this to be a “safe” product.
In summary we will continue to use pesticides in a responsible, wise and limited manner. We also share our knowledge so that home gardeners will be wise in selecting and using pesticides if that should be necessary. When recommending solutions to local gardeners, our emphasis for many years has been on organic fertilizers and least toxic solutions.
In closing, here is a great new handout from WSU to assist you in protecting bees in the garden: