Saturday, November 15, 2014

To bee or not to bee

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

This post isn't about lawn care as it is about another industry I've been hearing rumblings from. In fact all year. To the point that bees are dying at a drastic rate and neonicotinoids are being blamed. This issue is now before the courts and well...

Since it isn't my area of expertise let me post something from Robert Wager of the University of British Columbia that sums it up best in this article obtained from Force of Nature. He brings up some interesting points on the pro-neonic side.

And what was the problem according to PMRA? Dust from seeding. And what did they do? Add a lubricant and some equipment changes to seeding machinery to eliminate the problem. A couple of key points not covered. A couple of things to think about re: neonics: First the western provinces use plenty of neonics and have very little CCD, Australia uses lots of neonics and has zero CCD (also has zero Varroa mits, hmmm)

Second, what do people think was used on seeds before neonics? Perhaps people should look up the EIQ of those older compounds and see how they compare to neonics before they call for a ban on neonics. This exact experiment is going on in Europe right now as they banned neonics for two years.

This whole story about Bees is very emotional but emotions make for very bad decision making tools in science based public policy.

Has anyone every asked what has changed with bee husbandry in the past couple decades? Very interesting. In Canada, colonies used to be destroyed each fall and all the honey harvested. new bees were purchased from the US each spring. Then the vorroa mite arrived in NA. That effectively ended the cross border movement of bees. So now the colonies over-winter but ask how much of the honey is left for the bees and how much is replaced with sugar water (hardly a equitable swap)?

No one wants to see bees harmed and as long as people keep shouting to fix the wrong thing, the real problems with bees will continue. It is very true there are real issues with bees and CCD but knee jerk blaming of one pesticide when evidence shows several reasons why its not that simple will not solve the real problems.

And there you have it from point A to Bee...sorry again.

A great site to learn about bees is

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The song remains the same

I'm reminded of a story I once heard about Neil Peart the drummer for Rush and how, when they were recording new material, Neil would always start out with a full drum kit. Yet, with each pass he would be informed that a certain instrument- perhaps the cowbell, wasn't right for the song. So Neil would remove it from the kit and toss it in the corner.
With each repetition of the song the pile of discarded instruments would grow until the right percussive mix was established.

Where am I going with all this?

The lawn care industry is much the same way. Think of each season as a different song that needs the right mix of instruments. This year the song was exceptionally good but there was still a problem with the overall sound.

In the summer chinch bugs came in full force and caused damage, but one discouraging result I found, was most of the damage I saw revolved around my customers with Eco-Lawn- a grass seed that I was told, flat-out, by my supplier was an endophytic cultivar.

Simply, this means it is a grass type meant to withstand chinch bug and grub invasions. However, I witnessed many of my eco-lawns destroyed by chinch. In one case where we treat adjoining fronts of two lawns the feeding only took place on the Eco-Lawn side and stopped once it reached the more traditional blends of perennial ryes, fescue and blue grass.

That raises some serious questions not to mention my frustration.

Now not all my Eco-Lawns were affected, but I have now seen chinch and white grub dine heavily on this supposedly insect resistant grass. Since I too, have touted the insect resistant value of this seed, I must now remove that statement from my vocabulary.

Don't get me wrong, I still feel Eco-Lawn grass seed is a useful instrument in the right situations. However, for this year's song it ended up in the corner and with chinch bug becoming a frequent problem I can't see it returning to the kit anytime soon.