Teresa Lavell is a certified IPM Advocate who works with water agencies in the Bay Area to promote cleaner waterways by educating home gardeners on less-toxic solutions for their gardening problems. Teresa will be teaching a class at Common Ground Garden on September 24 from 2-4pm on how to make your garden more bee friendly. Read on for Teresa’s preview of the class!
The truth is that most home garden pest problems can be solved without pesticides. Are aphids bothering you? Spray them off with a blast of water from the hose. Is it a bigger problem than that? Use a horticultural oil or soap to knock them down. Steer clear of systemics. These are products that are taken up by the plants roots into every part of the plant – roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruit and yes, pollen. It might kill whatever is eating your plant but it is also toxic to pollinators visiting the flowers and leaf cutter bees using small notches of leaf to build their nests.
As for making room for nesting bees, it is good to remember that about 75% of bees live solitary lives and build nests in tunnels they either find or create. So maybe you leave a corner bare (or more) for them when spreading mulch in your garden. There are plenty of commercially available options for bee housing or you can look up the fact sheet on native bee nests on the Xerces Society website for some great directions for homemade options.