You probably already know from bitter experience how much mosquitoes can ruin your outdoor living experience during the summer. And they’re not just a nuisance – now that we’ve learnt how they can also carry the West Nile virus, Zika virus and other deadly diseases.That is why it is so important to take measures to protect yourself and deter mosquitoes from taking up resident in your yard. In fact, in many cities and towns, mass spraying of pesticides is common practice to keep the mosquito population within limits. What often gets overlooked when implementing these measures, however, is the effect they have on other, more beneficial, critters – such as bees. In this article we tell you everything you need to know about how to protect those precious honey bees whilst ALSO implementing successful mosquito abatement measures. Read on below to find out more.
First, though, a word about bees and why they are so useful. These creatures not only product honey, they are also responsible for pollinating many of our fruit and vegetable crops. Without honey bees, in other words, our farmers would see a huge drop in supply and would probably not even be able to stay in business.
The problem with mosquito pesticides is that they also eliminate bees, in particular the field bees who go outside of the hive to collect pollen and nectar from particular plants and flowers. They get exposed to insecticide – either directly from the plants they feed on, or via ‘insecticide drift’ ie when pesticide is carried on the wind from one area to another – then carry it back to the hive, infecting the entire colony (that’s if they are even able to return to the hive without dying).
So how can you protect you and your family from mosquitoes without your pesticides killing bees off also. Here are a few tips and tricks:
1. Apply the pesticide to the GROUND: this will reduce the chances of insecticide drift’ that you get with aerial paying. Also try using granular insecticides, which are less likely to drift along the air. If you are unable to avoid using aerial sprays, then at least use them in the evenings when bees have returned home to their hives.
2. Cover up the hives: if you are a beekeeper and have hives in your yard, remember to cover them whenever any spraying will be occurring. The best material to use is burlap, or some other breathable material, which will shield your hive against pesticides whilst still allowing it to receive the air the bees need to survive.
3. Try using mosquito ‘dunks’: this product contains BTI, a form of bacteria that will kill off the larvae of mosquitoes whilst passing over other life-forms including mosquitoes. You simply dunk them in any standing water sources that exist in your yard, such as bird baths or wading pools. That’s another benefit of mosquito dunks: the pesticide is confined to water and isn’t carried on the air, so no chance of it infecting bee colonies.
4. Keep mosquitoes from coming into your yard in the first place: actually, rather than using mosquito DUNKS, you are better off removing any sources of standing water from your yard, or at least regularly changing the water – go into your yard and check for birdbaths, wading pools, empty containers and flowerpots that have filled with rainwater; you should even try and remove large puddles of rainwater that collect in depressed terrain. After all, standing water is where mosquitoes breed and lay eggs. They also seek shelter in areas with heavy vegetation, so also be sure to regularly mow your lawn, trim back the hedges and remove any weeds or wild grasses. Yet another good trick to keep mosquitoes out of your yard is to invest in a good fan – since mosquitoes are poor flyers and find it hard to navigate through the air when there is wind about. Finally, a mosquito trap that utilizes light, gas and heat to draw mosquitoes in and then kill them is another thing you can try out.
5. Use a less potent pesticide: choose bee safe pesticides that are less potent, that way you are less likely to wipe out ALL the wildlife in your area, mosquitoes and honey bees alike. Use this guide here to find out the best pesticides to use, and what ones are to be avoided.