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my industrious new friends are working hard to make this world a little greener!


I have a few thousand new pets. A couple of weeks ago, two lovely girls dressed head to toe in fresh white jumpsuits with large brimmed hats swathed in clouds of netting came over to my garden and bestowed upon me two boxes of feisty, buzzing, glorious bees!

If you garden, if you care at all about plants (actually if you care at all about the planet), it is pretty impossible to not know that there is a very real and very serious crisis – and bees are at the center of it. Herbicides and pesticides are devastating our world, and the canaries in this coal mine are our fierce comrades in arms – the bees that, via their tireless and masterful pollination efforts, keep our food growing, keep our plants blooming and reproducing, which in turn underpins the oxygenation of our world. It isn’t just about food (although that is important enough), without bees our planet wouldn’t breathe.

Yet people still use poisons in their gardens just to make it easier to keep their lawns and flower borders weed-free. They don’t like bugs anywhere near their plants so they spray everything with pesticides that kill the bad and the good, rather than taking the time to apply the principles of Integrated Pest Management – that takes too long! Just get rid of all the bugs and we’ll sort it out later. Well, the sorting is happening now, and the bees are pointing right to us as being the ones accountable for the Colony Collapse Disorder that has the potential to become an Armageddon for out busy beneficial friends. And although they are now implicated as a major player in Colony Collapse, it isn’t just neonicotinoides that are the problem – this isn’t just about banning one class of pesticides and moving forward with business as usual – if we as a garden and farming culture don’t re-think our strategies for dealing with HOW we grow, we are in for big trouble. BIG TROUBLE.

Try googling neonicotinoides for a colorful screen full of earth destroying poison, all available at a nursery near you. Shameful.

But some people seem to not care. They go into their big box stores and buy their poisons and they use them on their pretty gardens and are puffed up with pride when they get compliments on their lovely flowers and glorious plants. I wish these people didn’t garden. They are doing serious harm. It would be better if their gardens full of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides were to go fallow and grow over with whatever weeds appear in their corner of the world, so that our little struggling friends can start to collect pollen from whatever has survived the killer garden that previously held court. Yes – KILLER GARDEN. I am not being hyperbolic. Sometimes no gardening is better. REALLY.

So yes, I have bees now! I know when they collect pollen from my plants, they won’t be collecting pollen contaminated with fungicides and pesticides. I just hope that when they roam far for their pollen, that they don’t venture into the Killer Garden of some plant enthusiast who has jacked up their roses and tomatoes with Miracle-Gro, doused their lawns with Green Light to keep grubs at bay, and has a man spray broad spectrum insecticides around the foundation plantings to keep bugs out of the house. If they do, they will come back with a contaminated bounty that weakens the hive and leaves it open to mites and parasites. There may be neonicotinoide residue in that pollen, and that could create a disruption of the tiny bee version of neurological pathways, causing the bees to abandon the hive and die.

When someone says that what they do in their garden is their business, I am going to point to my bees to illustrate how interconnected we all are. THE BAD GARDENING PRACTICES OF OTHERS AFFECT US ALL.

So please cross your fingers for my new pets, my busy bees, that will be buzzing in a 2 mile radius – pollinating everything they can! There are some hardcore Killer Gardens out there.

HAPPY BEE WEEK!!!! Kiss a bee today!

Posted by

Ivette Soler
on May 28, 2014 at 9:06 am, in the category Gardening on the Planet, Grab Bag, Real Gardens.

    • John
    • 1st January 1970

    My neighbor was outside just the other day spraying something. We were sitting on the screened in front porch and I suddenly got a horrible chemical/death cloud smell. We quickly shut the windows and retreated inside, but I was horrified to see their two small children out with them playing in the yard AS they were spraying pesticides/fertilizer. Some people will just never get it. Like, ever. Sad.

    • Ivette Soler
    • 16th January 1972

    Ugh – John, isn’t it AWFUL. My aunt had a toxic exposure from a lawn spraying in Texas (I think it was a really big lawn) and she suffered for YEARS before she was clear of the neurological side effects. I don’t get it – these things are MADE TO KILL living things, of course they would be bad for us and the general ecology! Sigh – we are all intertwined, we walk on the same earth and we breathe the same air and what we do affects those around us. It is really simple, but the idea of “My home is my castle” is deeply instilled. NO. All of us are temporary squatters on this planet, so we should keep that in mind and not ruin everything for everybody. Thanks for your comment!

    • John
    • 15th December 2010

    Thanks Ivette. It sure would help the situation if people started making the connections that you have – toxic exposure = long term side effects. I try to gently ask people why they continue to use the lawn service to spray their lawn with weed killer/fertilizer when their only rationale is “because everyone else does it”.

    • Ivette Soler
    • 7th August 2015

    John, I know – it can seem like an uphill battle sometimes. The connections are there for all of us to make, and it would be a shame and I daresay a crime for us to wait until we have reached an environmental tipping point from which we can’t return. We can each do what we can, even in the face of toxicity. We can’t let the people who hold to toxic methods wear us down, even though they are in the majority, and one blast of mosquito fog can ruin everything we’ve done. It IS disheartening, but I think we just have to put on a smile and keep working at it. Thank you for being part of the Organic Army! Best wishes to you!

    • admin
    • 26th October 2016

    Good one! I”m getting angrier at these toxic gardening practices by the day.

    • Ivette Soler
    • 29th October 2016

    I know Susan, me too. I used to be someone who believed that all gardeners were helping the world, no matter what, because making things grow was better than not. But I have really changed my views on that – many gardeners are actively helping to totally mess up everything for everyone, in the face of evidence that their old-school practices are detrimental! That makes me SO MAD! It is lazy and unforgivable, and I don’t care how old someone is and that they have been doing it that way forever – that behavior HAS TO CHANGE and we need to hold all gardeners to a higher standard.
    Gosh I am really ranting today! My dander is way up!!!

    • Erik Knutzen
    • 30th October 2016

    Ivette–congrats on the new hive. And thanks for getting the word out about all those terrible poisons that are all too easy to buy.

    • Ivette Soler
    • 4th November 2016

    Erik you and Kelly are SUCH an inspiration to me I can’t even begin to express it. I am always trying to reconcile my love of garden design with my love of this planet, and I find that you two are an example of exactly where I want to be in life. Thanks ever so for your generosity of spirit!
    And YES to how awesome bees are! I had a wild hive up in a sycamore tree right above my garden for about 15 years, and they haven’t returned for the last 2 years, so I thought it was time to set up a hive of my own. I am so happy to have them in my garden! It is a real thrill, and I’m happy to have the buzzing back in my ears as I putter around my plants.
    Bees are COMPLETELY the reverse of spraying poisons – the antidote, in fact! More neighborhood hives in the face of the outdated spraying of chemicals can be how we fight back – neighborhood pollination squadrons! YEAH!!!!

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