Predatory nematodes and water for bees

As I mentioned in the last post, bad garden bugs are a big challenge.

There are various sprays that will work if they make contact with the insect, or if the insect ingests it. But what I really wanted was to prevent the little buggers from growing in the first place. Thus the handpicking of the squash bug eggs. But you can’t do that in the soil!! For that we have predatory nematodes or beneficial nematodes. These are not the kind that attack root vegetables. These attack the larval stage of insects that are in the soil. They do not injure earthworms, only insects that have larval stages in the soil.

This is what they look like:

Just kidding. You can’t actually see them since they are microscopic so when you get that little blue sponge you have to have faith that they are there.

2" blue sponge, moist

This is how they come packaged:

With an icepack:

There isn’t much to show after this point. You rinse the sponge into a gallon of water and believe that the nematodes are in there! Then you mix a little of the gallon nematodes into more water and then use that to water the soil. I used a 4 gallon watering can and since we have almost 3/4 of an acre, I wasn’t about to water the whole yard. I focused on the garden beds and their periphery. You are then supposed to water them down into the top 2-3″ of soil but I let the lovely rain last night do that for me. I highly recommend using the rain to your advantage unless you have a very small yard.  We shall see how this works.

Water is used by bees for cooling. They find smelly water and this is how they locate it. Fresh water they can’t find as easily. This is why they like to use the neighbor’s pool. Our neighbor DOES have a pool. and considering they were trying to kill the harmless Cicada Killer Wasps, I want my bees to stay away from the pool. There is also a stream that runs in our yard. To make sure they stayed on our yard for their water needs, we bought a whiskey barrel from Lowes and filled it with water. I use Mosquito Bits to control the little buggers and keep it filled. I change it periodically, I think the smell of the aged water, wood and whiskey of the barrel help them find it. Granted it’s also about 8′ away.

You are supposed to float sticks or corks to give them some footing, but as you can see, they hold on to the rough sides very well. I’ve watched them and it seems they use the capillary action of the wood to get their water as I haven’t seen their proboscis actually in the water.

Hang on!

About the food. By Monday, Melissa used up 1/2 of the food in the quart jar I placed on Sunday. I added another syrup jar on Tuesday and today both jars were almost empty. So I was adding more syrup to the jars an hour ago and I had no equipment or gloves with me. So I was moving the jars and bees and it felt so weird/funny to feel their little legs on me!

Sugar syrup and pollen patties

More bees–the population is steadily increasing

It’s going to rain this weekend. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do a hive inspection. I want to at least spray sugar water on the wax foundation I moved closer to the brood. Hopefully, this will help them draw the wax out.

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4 comments

  1. Hi, I just found your blog and I really like it. It is interesting to learn about your bees. I am a little confused, however. Mosquito Bits contain Bt, which kills insect larva. Is that a problem for the bee larva?

    • The Bti isn’t a problem for bee larvae (the Bti is effective against insects in the fly family) but to minimize their exposure I change the water pretty frequently too.

      I think I’ll know whether the nematodes have been effective against the Japanese beetles in the Spring only. I’m debating whether to order more and do it again in the fall. Do you use the nematodes every year? Thanks for reading!

      • Hi Anna,
        Yes, I use them every year. It the ground is really dry, you need to water the lawn/garden really well, so the nematodes can get into the soil. Also, if you can spray them in the evening or on a cloudy day, that helps. I have had great success with them.

  2. By the way, you are really going to like those predatory nematodes. I have used them for several years. They are great for controlling fleas (e.g., larva in the soil). I put them on the garden too. It helps control carrot maggots and stuff like that.

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