Don’t Spray the Bees

Don’t Spray the Bees

Written by: Michele Sampson
Edited by: Katie Shin

bee and lavendar in a field

“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.” – Alice Walker

We’ve probably all read about the decimation of the honey bee and overall decline of pollinators in general. We need pollinators.

When redesigning my yard, I decided that I was going to create a habitat that is pollinator friendly. I spent hours researching pollinators, how to create a pollinator habitat, and the best plants to attract pollinators in my climate zone.

One of the first things I decided on was to create a lavender garden. Certain types of lavender do really well in my area as long as they’re in well draining soil. My clay soil is not well draining but I was committed to the lavender. My soil was so hard and rocky that I couldn’t even dig in it and ended up buying a pick to loosen the ground. I made several trips to the nursery to get guidance because digging and amending the soil for this lavender garden seemed like way more effort than any person should have to spend. Hours turned into days of picking and shoveling, but eventually I had a big patch of beautifully loamy soil perfect for the lavender and in it went. Five plants. A big enough space to create a real destination for pollinators. I was really proud of how it turned out.

And all that work paid off. The lavender thrived and my family and I really enjoyed watching pollinators flitting around the spires.  There was an occasional wasp or moth that would stop by and a lot more bees and hummingbirds than I expected. I was encouraged by my success and decided to expand my pollinator garden. I was going to create a suburban pollination oasis. As I researched more about attracting pollinators I read to be careful when watering. You don’t want to spray water on them, because you can kill your pollinators with a heavy stream of water. I never really thought about it but it seems pretty obvious  - obviously spraying water on the pollinators could kill them. Why would anyone spray water on the pollinators?

"The hum of bees is the voice of the garden." – Elizabeth Lawrence

My lavender garden has really grown and is beautiful. It takes up a pretty large section of the yard and is a focal point with its silvery gray foliage and tall purple spires. The other day I was out watering the lavender. I was engrossed in my task, making sure each plant was getting watered evenly, looking at the branches I wanted to trim and really focused on what a beautiful garden it is. I was so focused on my task of watering, growing and admiring my lavender that I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that there were several bees in the bed getting doused with water. And then I noticed it. I was spraying the bees. And for a moment, even after I noticed, I just kept watering as usual. And then it sunk in. I’m so focused on my lavender that I had forgotten the entire purpose of the lavender was to create a habitat for pollinators. Stop spraying the bees.

Ciera and Michele planting in Grow|StylePHX Garden

When I realized what I was doing it caused me to reflect and ask myself, what else have I become distracted by in my life?  What things (lavender) have I been so focused on that I forgot they’re just the means to an end (the bees). They aren’t my purpose.

For instance, I thought of work and how at various points in my life I was consumed by my job. I thought about it constantly. I would wake up at night, stressed out about something happening (or not happening) at work. There were points when I hated my job so much that I would feel physically sick driving to work. There were points when I would snap at my children or bang around the house and it was because of something happening at work. And I thought wow, I had really lost sight that work was not my purpose. It was a means of providing financial support, not the reason for my existence.

Running became another lavender in my life. I used to be overweight enough that I started worrying about my health. I had a dear friend who encouraged me to walk with her every day, and as I got in better shape we started walking further, then walk-jogging, then jogging. We started doing half marathons and I loved it. I loved the training and the anticipation and the challenge of improving my time. And then I stopped enjoying it. I wanted to continue. I wanted to enjoy it but I just didn’t anymore. I started dreading it. I dreaded all those miles and all the time it took. And then I remembered. The purpose wasn’t running. The purpose was to be healthy and lead an active lifestyle. I didn’t have to run to achieve that purpose. I started hiking and working in the garden and being active in ways I found enjoyable. It doesn’t mean I’ll never run again, but just to remind myself that the purpose is to be healthy and active.

“I’ve always felt that having a garden is like having a good and loyal friend.” – C Z Guest

While I can take great joy and pride in those things, I need to remind myself that they’re just a tool, they’re not my purpose. Stop focusing so much on the lavender that I’m spraying the bees.

You can learn more about Michele - our StylePHX Grower - by visiting our Meet Michele page. Dig into our Grow|StylePHX Garden and learn more about our journey with community gardening, too!

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