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Image by Eric Ward

Pesticides that are not bee-safe (or other pollinator-safe) include Organophosphates, Permethrin, Acephate/Orthene, Diatomaceous Earth, Neonicotinoids, Atrazine, Flupyradifurone, Hexachlorobenzene, Glyphosate, Methomyl, and Rotenone. Based on WHO data, they are particular hazards due to: (1) bio-accumulation; (2) persistence in water, soil/sediment; (3) toxicity to aquatic organisms; and (4) toxicity to bees/ecosystem. Glyphosate, the main ingredient of Roundup and many other products, is the most widely used herbicide in global agriculture and the second most widely used home and garden herbicide.

Health risks - Glyphosate

  • Liver and kidney disease

  • Microbiome disruption of healthy gut bacteria

  • Neurotoxicity

  • Eye irritation or injury

  • Mouth and throat burns

  • Death in some cases of intentional digestion

  • Possible cancer link

Affect on Bees

Glyphosate affects the bee's central nervous system, affecting the forager bee's ability to return to the hive -  increased forager deaths can lead to Colony starvation. Bumblebees sprayed with pesticides in environment-used quantities had a 90%+ mortality rate. See articles at the top of the page.

Fruits and Vegetables

The following are generally the most contaminated with pesticides and should be washed before consumption:

  • Strawberries

  • Spinach

  • Kale/cabbage/chard/mustard greems/cauliflower/kohlrabi/broccoli

  • Nectarines

  • Apples

  • Grapes

  • Bell peppers and chili peppers

  • Cherries

Affect on Children

Children are thought to be more at risk as they are closer to the ground and more likely to put unwashed hands or other objects in their mouths and have more skin surface compared to body-weight, than adults.

Affect on Pets

Glyphosate can cause problems for pets that touch or eat plants that are still wet with the chemical:

  • Diarrhea/vomiting

  • Appetite loss

  • Drolling

  • Drowsiness

Not all garden insects and vertebrates are harmful to your garden - some eat typical garden pests such as aphids, caterpillars, sawflies and slugs.

Alternatives to Harmful

Pesticides & Herbicides

Neem Oil

Derived from the Azadirachta indica evergreen tree, native to the Inidian sub-continent, Neem is effective at repelling mites, aphids and powdery mildew.

Organic Neem oil is biodegradable, breaks down rapidly and does not leave a lasting residue. A home-made solution should be properly diluted to be no more than 3% oil.

Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar and White Wine Vinegar can be used as a concentrated spray for difficult weeds or in a mixture of:

                 1 gallon vinegar : 1 cup Epsom Salts : 1 tablespoon castile soap

Epsom Salts

Safe, non-toxic and bee-friendly, as well as being a magnesium-rich fertilizer for tomato and pepper plants. Effective against slugs and snails, Epsom Salts can be sprinkled at the base of plants or applied as a half-water/half-salts spray to leaves affected by pests.

Chrysanthemums

Contain a natural pest-repelling compound pyrethrin - create borders of this colourful perennial around vegetable plots or make a tea from the plant and use in a spray.

Pepper, Garlic and Onion

Blend a handful of chili peppers, garlic or onions in a blender with plenty of water and heat in a pan. Add to a gallon container after cooling.If using chilies, take care not to touch your eyes.

Castile Soap

Although gentle and non-toxic, the fatty-acids in the olive-oil based soap make this a good pesticide.Use a 2% soap to water mixture and add vinegar, cooking oil, neem oil or pepper.

Aluminium Foil

Re-use in the garden to repel aphids - cut into strips and wrap around the base of plants or mix into mulch.

Essential Oils

Eucalyptus, Orange, Rosemary and Peppermint. Use in a spray bottle of water or sprinkle a few drops around your plants.

Mulch

2 - 3 inch layer of mulch will prevent weeds sprouting from below.  Weeds that seed onto the surface of the mulch are very easily removed.

Manual removal

Remove the root and weed before weeds go to flower/seed, for best results. Clawed gardening gloves are very effective.

Companion planting

Marigolds and flowers and plants are a natural pest deterrant:

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