To Save The Bees Part II (Revised)

IMG_5368In the origin Part II of this series, which was written in 2016, I wrote about planting 4 Basswood trees with the intention that they would grow and the blossoms would provide food for the bees. Despite our best efforts the trees did not do well and to date only two of the trees are struggling to survive.

I first thought I would just skip Part II and repost Part III in the series. Instead I decided to share my thoughts on a subject has been identified as contributing to the decline in bees/pollinators.

You have probably heard that insecticides, more specifically neonicotinoids, are thought to be partly to blame for the decline in bee/pollinator populations. It would the stand to reason that if our goal is to help save the bees then we should try to avoid use of these chemicals.

Repel Bugs Instead Of Poison Them

Here are a couple of ways to do that. The first is companion planting – that means to plant different types of plants together that support each other’s health and well being. This companion planting guide provides a chart that includes what plants will repel specific insect away from other plants which are susceptible.

The second is this homemade garden bug spray. Like companion planting this spray acts to repel insects rather than kill them. In the past we have tried various recipes for bug sprays – some work some don’t. Last year when I saw this recipe on 5 Acres and A Dream , a homesteading blog that I follow, I decided to try it. Two things that inspired me to try this recipe were first that it was easy to make with simple ingredients – mint, garlic, cayenne and a few drops of biosafe dish soap (see link for complete recipe). The second was Leigh’s (author of 5 Acres and A Dream) testimony that it worked for her.  I am not sure of all the bugs that it is effective against but in our experience it worked well against aphids and some other, unidentified, bugs. Leigh says it saved her cabbage and basil plants from whatever was eating them.

Know What You Are Buying

The other thing regarding insecticides that I wanted to bring to your attention, for those who might be purchasing plants from a greenhouse or garden center, is that the plants may have already been treated with neonicotinoids. Since it is not required that treated plants be labeled as such, it is best to ask if they have. While I generally promote shopping local and supporting small businesses, it is probably worth mentioning that two large retailers in the USA, Home Depot and Lowe’s, had planned to stop selling treated plants by 2018-2019. According to this article Home Depot seems to have largely followed through with their plan. (I have not yet been able to find evidence that Lowe’s has done so.)

Of course there is always the option of starting your own plants from seed rather than buying plants and that is what we plan to do more of this year.

Have you ever done companion planting? Do you have any tried and true methods for repelling insects?

Thanks for reading and be on the look out for Part III of this series (Planting For Bees).




16 thoughts on “To Save The Bees Part II (Revised)

  1. Unfortunately so many garden centres use all sorts of awful chemicals in the production of their plants. If at all possible it is best to get cuttings and seeds from friends and neighbors. That way you also plant things that grow well in your local area. Happy gardening 🌱🌱

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  2. In the past, I’ve planted marigolds next to cabbage to try to reduce the number of bugs on the cabbage. But it didn’t seem to work very well, and there were still lots of insects on the cabbage.

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  3. It’s so odd how difficult certain plants can be ( but not for everyone) I never had any luck growing a peach tree. Even though I was able to grow other fruit trees successfully


    1. They only fruit trees we have had success in growing are apple trees. We have lost peach, cherry and plumb trees at the farm. We have a large grove of old pear trees but they rarely produce any fruit. Because they grow in the wood line with a lot of oak trees I suspect the soil may be too acidic for them to make fruit.


    1. According to the companion planting guide odorless marigold and white geranium repel Japanese beetles. Here is another article that lists some plants including catnip, garlic and chives.
      A product called milky spore is supposed to be a safe and effective way of getting rid of them.
      We seem to have less of a problem with them since people in the neighborhood stopped using the traps.


  4. Years ago I planted marigolds around the base of the clematis plants to keep bunnies from gnawing on them, so I could train them to go up the trellis. I got them established and the Polar Vortex wiped them out, but I understand the strong musty scent of the marigolds repels most critters. I just used the small marigolds around the base. I got slugs in most of my plants one year – they loved the hostas, but I had read to bury copper pennies around the base of the plant, or to go to the store and buy lengths of flat copper and lay it around the plant … the slugs are slimy and go over the copper and it electrocutes them. I did not try this (not because I am a slug lover but because they were eating the leaves at an alarming rate). I also bought into the beer idea and bought some items which looked like mushrooms from Gardener’s Supply. The top of the “mushroom” (which was made of soapstone), lifted off and had some cavities in it. Then you buried the bottom in the dirt – then you poured beer into it and put the cap on. Supposedly slugs would smell the yeast in the beer, get into the cavities and drown in the beer. It was a waste of money and did not work and when it was hot and humid, it smelled like a distillery out back.

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    1. I saved a bunch of marigold seeds from last year and will be starting them soon. They are high on the list for repelling beetles. I have read the crushed egg shells around plants will deter slugs. We have lots of egg shells so I will be trying this in our cabbage patch this year. Thanks for sharing what doesn’t work.

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      1. I like the Garfield large marigolds, but am not keen on the other smaller ones, but if it works it is worth it. I had slugs bad one year and between going through gallon jugs of Slugetta and buying beer and rinsing out the “mushroom cups” every night, I was quite frustrated. And, I had the climbing rosebushes (three of them) called “Stairway to Heaven” I bought for my Mom and Sugar (my first canary)’s memorial garden. They were prone to blackspot and every morning I’d go out and spray them as the dew/rain/watering would wipe it off. It was a pain and it looked sickly so I pulled the three of them out at the end of the Summer and threw the umbrella trellis away so it would not contaminate anything else.

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      2. The marigolds I planted last year we plugs my husband rescued from the greenhouse floor where he was working. When I planted them in the Prayer Garden the got huge. They also reseeded and began sprouting babies as the old blossoms died and fell off. Since I knew the seeds were viable I decided to save some for to plant this year.
        Garlic is supposed to be beneficial to roses. It repels aphids and is said to be anti-fungal. The bug spray recipe would probably work too because it has garlic in it but as you say would have to be reapplied after a rain.

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      3. When I worked at the diner, people clamored for coffee grounds and egg shells for their gardens. We always had a pickle pail and we’d throw all the coffee grounds and eggshells in there – people would have their name “in line” to have it for their gardens. When the pail was filled up, we’d call them to pick up their bucket. 🙂

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