Saturday, March 29, 2014

If you really want to help honey bees...

I have been seeing bees for over a month now. They have been gathering pollen from the early blooming trees: maple, elm, poplar, and willow. Pollen provides protein for growing bee larva, but does not provide energy for flying bees. Early in the season, that still comes from the sugar stored as honey.

Some of the early bulbs give a little nectar and I am sure the bees manage to find a bit here and there in the wild. The most important time for nectar is when the dandelions start blooming. Dandelions are rich in pollen, but they are also rich in early nectar. This early nectar helps honey bees fuel long flights while searching for later nectar flows, as well as fuel the growth of spring bee populations.

Dandelions are also markers for when the fruit trees and other early bloomers start producing. But you should never forget that dandelions are a major source of bee energy all by themselves.

If you care about bees, stop killing dandelions!

Friday, March 28, 2014

2014 Dormant Oil Spraying

It is too late to spray this apple.

The apricots are now blooming, so it is too late to do a dormant spray on them. But you can still treat your apples, peaches and nectarines, and pears.

If you had problems with any of these pests last year you can use organic dormant oil on them right now:

  • Aphids
  • Blister mites
  • Brown mites
  • Peach twig borer
  • Pear psylla
  • San Jose scale
Check the oil before you buy it to make sure it is listed as organic. Then mix 5 tablespoons of oil per 1 gallon water and shake it well. Oil is not a "poison," so you need to spray the tree heavily enough that the oil can plug up the breathing holes on the pests. This happens when the entire tree is dripping after being sprayed.

Temperatures should be between 50 and 70 degrees when you spray, and should not go below freezing in the 24 hours after spraying.

Start spraying right now, but you need to stop as soon as your:
  • Apples have buds that are half green.
  • Pears have a cluster of smaller buds bursting through the main bud.
  • Peaches and nectarines show pink through the bud.
Dormant spraying does not help with codling moths or greater peach tree borer.