Location: OSU’s Integrated Plant Protection Center in Corvallis, Oregon
Featuring: Gwendolyn Ellen
Beneficial insects are predators, parasites, and parasitoids which provide farms with a variety of ecological services, including insect, pest, weed, and disease management, and pollination and microbial breakdown contributing to soil tilth.
Many predaceous ground beetles don’t fare well with soil and pesticide disturbance. Gwendolyn Ellen helps farmers learn how to create beetle banks with the Farmscaping for Beneficials Program (FSB) at OSU. Beetle Banks provide the insects with a warm, dry winter shelter close to a ready food supply of crop pests and weed seeds.
Gwendolyn explains that beneficial insects can be encouraged through the decreased use of pesticides; providing undisturbed nesting and overwintering sites (such as beetle banks); providing blossom within the field throughout the season and habitats for food sources and refuge; and by mowing less farm edges and encouraging plant and habitat biodiversity. The disappearance of predaceous ground beetles occurs due to the use of pesticides. Their disappearance can allow for slugs, works, and invertebrate pests to take over, creating the need for even more pesticides. Oregon grass seed growers are transitioning from now disallowed field burning practices to more alternative grass seed production practices which include minimum tillage.
“Cultivate chaos on the farm instead of clean farming!”
Habitats That Promote Beneficial Insects
Sloughs, bottom lands, grassy field edges, blocks of native insectary plantings within the field and on field edges, row ends, by poles, irrigation headers and irrigation ditches, hedgerows, beetle banks, letting crop plants flower and go to seed, annual hedgerows of sunflowers
-Tropic effects- the disappearance of predacious ground beetle (due to pesticide use) can allow slugs, worms, and invertebrate pests to take over (creating the need for even more pesticides). Oregon grass seed growers are transitioning from now disallowed field burning practices to more alternative grass seed production practices which include minimum tillage. Many claim high populations of slugs now devastate their grass seed seedlings in the spring (researchers agree). The slugs’ traditional predator, predacious ground beetles, do not occur in high numbers in grass seed fields due to pesticide use.
Location: Elliot and Duncan’s Backyard, Seattle, Washington
Featuring: Elliot and Duncan
Each year the Ballard Bee company gathers over four thousand pounds of locally produced honey from hives placed on rooftops and in backyards (like Elliott’s) throughout the Seattle area.
Elliott loves bees (even after they sting him). He says, “I see a honey bee. The bees live in a hive. I think there are drones in honey combs. I hear bees buzzing.”
Tara and Brian wanted their two young boys to grow up with a deeper connection to the earth and its cycles and to know how to grow their own food. When he was five years old, Elliott spent the summer in his backyard collecting bees in glass jars. He would observe them, compare them, let them go then run to tell his parents what he’d discovered. He really wanted to be a “bee farmer”. His parents thought it was just a passing fancy. It wasn’t. They decided to contact the Ballard Bee Company and paid to have two hives placed in their yard and maintained from March to September. They also get a share of whatever honey the bees produce.