Blog

A Deadly Sting: Study finds queen bees' egg-laying abilities crippled by insecticide September 09 2016

Popular insecticide reduces queen bees' ability to lay eggs by as much as two-thirds fewer eggs

A recent study has found neonicotinoids, the world’s most commonly used insecticide, when fed to queen bees, caused them to lay two-thirds fewer eggs when compared to queen bees in unexposed colonies. Because the queen bee is the only individual in the colony that can reproduce, a reduction in its fertility can be detrimental to the whole colony. Moreover, the study found that exposed colonies were less productive (i.e. collected and stored less pollen; removed less infested or diseased pupae).

Scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Minnesota, had their study recently published in the journal Scientific Reports[1].

"One queen can lay up to 1,000 eggs a day. If her ability to lay eggs is reduced, that is a subtle effect that isn't (immediately) noticeable but translates to really dramatic consequences for the colony." - Judy Wu-Smart, lead study author

The scientists also found colonies exposed to imidacloprid, a type of neonicotinoids, collected and stored less pollen than insecticide-free colonies, and removed just 74 percent of mite-infested or diseased pupae that can infect the entire hive, compared to 95 percent removal by unexposed bees.

The results from this study indicate that risk-mitigation efforts should focus on reducing neonicotinoid exposure during the early spring when colonies are smallest in size and queens are most vulnerable to exposure.

Given the value of honey bee populations to the US economy is estimated to be $29 Billion dollars annually [2], the bigger question remains as to how industrial agriculture will continue utilizing honey bee pollination to achieve desired results while managing their competing need to apply these common insecticides.

 

Sources:

[1] - http://www.nature.com/articles/srep32108

[2] - https://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2012/05/insect-pollinators-contribute-29b-us-farm-income


Bombs Away - 100,000 Wildflowers For Our Future (Giveaway) April 18 2016

Seedles - Seed Bombs Giveaway

Sow it forward for future generations ...

Hiya beautiful! It's Earth Week, and we're aiming to create a buzz. 100,000 of them.

At Seedles, one of our goals is to sprout a future generation of curious and creative kiddos. This week only, we are giving away 100 classroom kits to teachers all over the US. Each kit has everything a class of giggling and adorable kids would need to grow wildflowers while learning about biology and bees.

Why? ... Bees across the globe are experiencing a cocktail of obstacles causing their health to be jeopardized with each flower they smooch. Whether it be pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or genetically modified crops ... they need our help to enjoy more clean food. They pollinate one in every three bites of our food, why not give back a little? By planting native wildflowers we're given them a fresh buffet of bee food, an action that feels good to do and supports their health too!

Apply by this Friday April 22nd to be entered to win one of our 100 Classroom Superhero Kits.

If you are a teacher and would like to be entered into our recipient pool to receive your very own classroom supero kit, please fill out the following Google Form - http://bit.ly/seedles-classroom-kit-request

Our Kit Includes

  1. 33 Wildflower Seedles - Some people call them "Nature's gumballs" ... we call them play with an impact. Enough for each student to have 1-2 seed balls to sprout and grow. What are seed balls?
  2. 30 Eco-Friendly Pots - They'll need something to grow their wildflower in, we help provide that too.
  3. Compost -  A yummy mixture of three types of compost perfect for sprouting the Seedles. (Did he just say yummy about dirt? Yes!)
  4. Classroom Instructions & Activities - Fun, playful, and educational activities that engage the students hearts and minds about the plight of the bee, what kids can do about it, and how to become a bee superhero.

 

If you are a teacher and would like to be entered into our recipient pool to receive your very own classroom supero kit, please fill out the following Google Form - http://bit.ly/seedles-classroom-kit-request

Thank you!

Sincerely,
Team Seedles - Chris, Ei Ei, Peter, Martín, Andrea & Orion


Why Honey Bees Need Water July 07 2015


Photo by: Luke Cada (mrcada) 

Succinctly put, bees need bee food and water to survive. Bees rarely store water, but bring it in as needed, so it is vital to provide fresh water to them continuously. Below you'll learn what bees use water for, why honey bees need water, and how you can provide water easily.

A red tailed hawk swooped down into my father-in-law's backyard and quickly landed. The two rock pigeons quickly dove for cover into nearby green hedges, and the tiny sparrow took flight as well. It wasn't meal time, it was water time. The bird bath although degraded and leaky after 20+ years outdoors still held some water in the dead of summer. It was a place of congregation in their dry, drought-laden California suburb of San Francisco.

What was most common there though was honey bees, 10-15 of them lined up regularly sipping up water like thirsty dogs. The neighbors hives enjoyed a regular supply of water without the risk of drowning considering there were plenty of cement edges for the bees to hang out on.

I've seen small native bees, honey bees, bumble bees, carpenter bees, and a black/blue bee once that I'm still not quite sure what it was. 

Bees Use Water For

  1. Cooling - In the heat of summer it is used for evaporative cooling. Similar to human-designed air conditions, the bees spread a thin film of water atop sealed brood(baby bee cells) or on the rims of cells containing larvae and eggs. The workers inside the hive then fan vigorously, setting up air flow which evaporated the water and cools the interior of the hive.
  2. Humidity - Worker bees use water to control the humidity of the colony, not just the temperature. 
  3. Utilize Stored Food - Bees need water to dilute stored honey that has crystallized (become too high in glucose) or in the case where beekeeper feeds them dried sugar crystals, they need water to dissolve the sugar. Without water, they can't access these food sources.
  4. Larvae Food - Another type of bee in the hive is the nurse bee, who feeds the developing larvae. They consume large amounts of pollen, nectar, and water so that their hypopharyngeal glands can produce the jelly that is used to feed the larvae. A larvae diet can consist of water up to 80 percent the first day of larval growth and about 55 percent on the sixth day. [1]
  5. Digestion - They need it in the digestion and metabolization of their food, as do most organisms. 

Kim Flottum, editor of the Bee Culture magazine, writes in his book, The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden: "A summer colony needs at least a quart (liter) of water every day, and even more when it's warm."

"Foragers will mark unscented sources of water with their Nasonov pheromone so others can locate the source too," Flottum writes.

Why They Need Clean Water

  • Chlorine - In a suburban environment, we recommend giving your bees fresh water to keep them out of your neighbor's swimming pool. Not only can the water contain chlorine and other contaminants, it may also bother your neighbor.
  • Larvae Development - Hypopharyngeal glands are less developed in workers starved, poisoned with pesticides and other anaesthetics. [2] The nurse bees and other bees use these glands to feed the larvae. During 24 hours the queen is able to lay more than 2000 eggs (larvae). That's a lot of mouths to feed!
  • Agricultural Contamination - Often water runoff in ditches, culverts, or other agriculturally related waterways contains insecticides, pesticides or fungicides which can disrupt brain function, bee learning and the ability to forage for food and so limit colony growth.

There are many ways you can help bees get some water during the summer heat, spring or fall. It's not as important how you do it, it's more important it gets done.

Easy Ways To Give Honey Bees Water

Key Tips For Watering Feature For Bees

  • Shallow & Wide - Bees don't need a deep bucket, just a small amount where they can't drown.
  • Corks, Rocks, or twigs - Always place floating wine corks, rocks, or glass pebbles so the bees have a place to get near but not drown in the water
  • Fresh Water - It is important the water is refreshed every day or every other day, so under a leaky outdoor faucet is a good spot to place a watering feature.

Best Honey Bee Watering Ideas

  1. Frisbee With Rocks - Put a frisbee full of clean rocks (find them in your yard) underneath a faucet outside, turn the faucet on so it drips once per minute. Over the day it will fill up and provide fresh water for the bees.
  2. Glass Pebbles - Most art stores, dollar stores or Target like stores have those bags of glass pebbles you can buy. Buy 1-2 bags of these pebbles and put them in a large (6 or more inches) but shallow container. Fill this with fresh water daily and place it near your garden or outside in a natural area of your yard. Bonus if you put some water loving plants like horsetail, cattail, water loving ferns, etc
  3. Birdbath - Take over the bird bath and decorate with twigs, rocks, pebbles, and wine corks. Ad some green ferns or moss to add a bit of color.
  4. Other ideas? - Contact us and we'll add it here

 

Sources

[1] - http://apis.ifas.ufl.edu/apis88/apmar88.htm
[2] - http://honeybee.drawwing.org/book/hypopharyngeal-glands


Why Grow Wildflowers With Seed Balls September 25 2014

Are Flowers The Solution?

Opinions about what is causing the decline in the honey bee population are rampant. Almost every month there is new research showing a different perspective on the causes. The causes range from pesticide usage, to diseases, to mite or moth infestations, to decline in biodiversity.

One piece of research indicated the decline of honeybees seen in many countries may be caused by reduced plant diversity. Bees need a varied diet full of diverse foods just like human do. Imagine eating the same meal containing meat and potatoes for the rest of your life, you just might get sick. Research indicates the same is true for bees, they need a well-rounded food supply featuring a diverse set of plants and flowers to maintain a healthy immune system.

We advocate growing native perennial wildflowers for several reasons

Suggestions below are wonderful, but buying organic, growing organic, and petitioning local stores is much more time consuming than most people are willing to invest.

  1. Easy – Growing wildflowers is easy and fun.
  2. Increases Food Diversity – Wildflowers increase the diversity of food supply for pollinators (this includes honey bees).
  3. Sustainable – Wildflowers provide lasting, sustainable biodiversity to our homes, neighborhoods, and cities.
  4. Joy and Color – Wildflowers provide color, joy and inspiration where we live.

We found the easiest solution, and made it easier with Seedles. Help us grow wildflower seed balls and support the honey bees.

 

5 Things You Can Do To Help Honey Bees

  1. Plant organic bee friendly plants and grow wildflowers with Seedles seed balls.
  2. Don’t use toxic chemicals in your home or your garden.
  3. Support local sustainable agriculture, which promotes habitat for 50% more bees.
  4. Purchase raw organic honey from local sustainable bee keepers.
  5. Tell your local garden store to stop selling bee killing insecticides, pesticides, and chemicals.
Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.

- Luther Burbank


How To Make Seed Balls / Seed Bombs August 01 2014

How To Quickly Make Seed Balls

Fun Fact: Bees have 5 eyes – 3 simple eyes on top of the head, and 2 compound eyes, with numerous hexagonal facets.

 

Ingredients

  • Seeds - Can be wildflowers, herbs, vegetables (lettuces do well), or native grasses
  • Clay - Dig it from a creek bed, buy it in powdered form, or purchase wet clay. Any clay is fine, but powdered clay is easiest to work with.
  • Compost - Either make your own or purchase a bag of good quality organic compost. Worm Castings also help, but don't use them more than 10% of your compost portion.
  • Water
  • Big Bowl - and Some Helper Hands

Instructions for How To Make Seed Balls

 

  1. Do a dance, this activity is fun, so celebrate and jump around for a minute!
  2. Mix 1 parts dry powdered clay with 7 parts compost by weight in a big bowl. Mix these together first. If using wet clay, you will want to mix the compost into it bit by bit using a heavy spoon or strong hands.
  3. Mix in 1 part seeds by weight into the clay and compost. If the seeds are very small (like california poppies, yarrow, tidy tips, etc) you can use less, because sometimes 1 cup of seeds can be 250,000 seeds, which would be overkill for a batch.
  4. Mix in 1-2 parts water slowly, usually the 1st part can be added quickly, but the second part needs to be added until you get a thick, dough like consistency.
  5. Break small pieces off and roll them between your two hands into seed balls or seed bombs, whichever you like to call them. The optimal size for making seed balls by hand is between the size of a dime and a nickel.
  6. Let them dry for 24-48 hours before tossing them. Putting them in direct sunlight speeds up the drying process

Ideas for Planting The Wildflower Seed Balls

  • Toss them in your backyard!
  • Go Hansel Gift them as party favors at your
  • Go Hansel and drop them along your route to work then enjoy them everyday. You deserve it.
  • Make a kitchen window garden by adding herb seeds and turning your seed bombs into Thyme Bombs.
  • Reverse egg hunting - Truly celebrate spring by letting kids add color and life to your backyard.
  • Make (Big) Kids Smile - Order a bunch for your wedding, school garden project baby shower, corporate event, birthday, or anniversary party.

Proportions

Many people across the internet recommend a 5 parts clay to 3 parts compost ratio. I also used this for a short while until it became evident the seeds were having challenges in breaking out of the seed ball, and the seed ball was not disintegrating as quickly as I would have liked. I recommend making the mixture as high in compost as you can make it, while still using the clay to hold things together. My experiments have shown to produce success seed balls with 1:1 ratio of clay to compost and even higher ratios of 2 parts compost to 1 part clay. Some of the higher compost seed balls do not have as much strength though, so beware they might need to be stored or transported gently.

 


What are Seedles Seed Balls? May 17 2014

What are Seedles?

Seed balls are a method for distributing seeds by encasing them in nutrient rich mixture of clay and compost. This protects the seeds by preventing them from over drying, being blown away by wind or eaten by birds and rodents.

Seedballs don’t have to be started indoors. The added protection from the clay and nutrients allows for better germination and higher success rates when planting outside. Because they are encased in clay and soil, your seeds don’t get eaten by bugs, birds, or other creatures. Instead they are protected and supported as they grow up big and tall.

Why our Seedles rock … and roll.

  • Red Clay – A special red clay that feeds the seeds minerals and protects the seeds from insects and birds.
  • Compost – Three types of compost are used including worm castings, sifted compost, and beneficial bacteria infused compost.
  • Seeds – Filled with regionally appropriate native wildflower seeds, they can grow up to 5-10 flowers. You will get high germination rate seeds, which ensures your Seedles will sprout without a doubt.
  • Size – The seedballs you will get are about the size of a nickel. Many other seedballs are too big, and have too many seeds inside causing wasted seeds and too much competition between the young seedlings.
  • Hot Peppers – We use hot pepper powder to prevent ants, slugs and other insects from trying to eat the seeds before they sprout. This isn’t in the coating so it’s safe for you to touch.