Facts and Fiction about Honey Bees

honey-bees-326337_960_720As we continue our observance of National Pollinator Week, we thought it would be fun to share some facts and fiction about honey bees.


Honey bees help keep our grocery shelves stocked with nutritious food. It’s estimated that honey bees pollinate one out of every three bites of food that we eat. Honey bees play an important role in pollinating many of our fruits, nuts and vegetables, which contribute to a healthy, nutritious diet.

The number of honey bee colonies is increasing. Honey bee colonies actually increased by 45 percent worldwide over the past 50 years. And in the past five years, the number of colonies in the U.S. and Canada has increased by 13 percent and 18 percent, respectively. Annual surveys conducted by the USDA show that the number of honey bee colonies has risen steadily over the past 10 years.

Honey bee colony health should not be taken for granted. Despite the growth in honey bee numbers, colonies are exposed to many factors such as parasites, diseases, inadequate nutrition or lack of available forage, adverse weather, pesticides and hive management practices that can affect their overall health.

Neonicotinoid insecticides do not impact colony health when used according to the label. Large-scale studies in Europe and North America show that poor bee health correlates well with parasites and diseases, but not with pesticides, including neonicotinoids.

A tiny parasite is one of the biggest threats to honey bee health today. In the late-1980s a parasite called the Varroa mite invaded North American. The Varroa mite is the “single most detrimental pest of honey bees,” according to the USDA. This parasite weakens bees and helps transmit diseases that can wipe out entire colonies. Beekeepers try to control the mite with insecticides, but effective control is difficult to achieve.

Farmers and beekeepers have worked together for decades. Farmers and beekeepers depend on each other where bees are needed to help pollinate crops. The farmer gets greater crop productivity and the beekeeper earns a fee for pollination services (and increases the colony’s honey production).

Beekeeping is big business. Modern beekeeping is principally aimed at crop pollination, rather than honey production. Commercial beekeepers manage hundreds or thousands of hives, often packing them on tractor-trailers and transporting them thousands of miles to help pollinate various crops throughout the season. Because this can be stressful for the colonies, it is important for beekeepers to ensure the bees are well-fed and kept free of pests and diseases.

Facts researched by Bayer CropScience.

Common Misconceptions

Here are some of the most common “Urban Bee Legends” according to the UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab:

All bees live in hives. Only 10% of the world’s 20,000 bee species are social, and only a small percentage of these construct hives.

All bees make honey. Only honey bees make enough honey to harvest, and native bees make no honey at all.

Honey is made from pollen. Honey is regurgitated nectar collected by worker honey bees. The nectar, which is 60-80% water, is mixed with enzymes inside the worker bee’s abdomen. Back at the hive, it is regurgitated and fanned with the workers’ wings until it becomes thick, syrupy honey. It is stored in comb cells sealed with wax cappings for use during the long winter months.

Bees die after they sting. Only honey bees die after stinging. Native solitary bees do not die after stinging, however, without a colony to defend, they are much less likely to utilize this defense mechanism.

Wasps are bees. Although they come from the same order of insects, wasps are not bees! Bees are vegetarians, intent on collecting pollen and nectar for their broods, while wasps are carnivorous. The yellow jacket, notorious for raiding picnics, is a wasp that has acquired the misleading name of “meat bee,” which adds to the confusion.

Small bees are baby bees that eventually grow into large bees. Bees belong to the order Hymenoptera, which undergo complete metamorphosis—a full reorganization of tissues between each life stage.



It’s National Pollinator Week

European_honey_bee_extracts_nectarInitiated and managed by the Pollinator Partnership, National Pollinator Week, June 20-26, celebrates the pollinators that are vital to our ecosystem. Pollinators — including bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles — contribute to the growth of fruit, vegetables and many nuts, as well as flowering plants.

The decline of domesticated honey bee colonies has been a hot topic over the past several years. Some experts say that the domestic honey bee population has declined nearly 50 percent in the last 50 years. Wild honey bees, bumble bees and other pollinators have also experienced losses.

Potential causes have been debated and include: bee-keeping practices, diseases, use of certain pesticides and lack of nutritionally diverse nectar and pollen sources due to urbanization and agricultural monocultures.

Nine years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the issue of declining pollinator populations.

Here are a few fast facts from Pollinator.org:

  • About 75 percent of all flowering plant species need the help of animals to move their heavy pollen grains from plant to plant for fertilization.
  • Most pollinators (about 200,000 species) are beneficial insects such as flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths, and bees.
  • About 1,000 of all pollinators are vertebrates such as birds, bats and small mammals.
  • An estimated 1/3 of all foods and beverages is delivered by pollinators.
  • In the U.S., pollination produces nearly $20 billion worth of products annually.

Treehugger.com offers four ways to participate in National Pollinator Week:

Massey Services is aware and alert to the concerns of pollinator health. Our service programs and product selections are designed to be environmentally responsible while being as effective as possible. Our landscape specialists and pest technicians have been trained to use alternate control measures or to delay treatment when plants are in bloom and pollinators are present.

In addition, we encourage the planting of “bee-friendly” gardens that will provide additional food sources and help keep bee populations healthy.

Avoid Mosquitoes During the Summer Rainy Season

CDC-Gathany-Aedes-albopictus-1Mosquitoes and the diseases they carry continue to be in the news. Mosquitoes have been around for millions of years and are one of the most irritating pests. Now that the summer rainy season is here, it’s more important than ever to take steps to avoid mosquitoes when you’re outside and to keep their populations down around your home. Massey Services offers these tips to lessen the bites and keep you protected from mosquito-borne illnesses.

  • Focus mosquito control efforts outside the home. Keep mosquitoes out of your home by having tightly closed doors as well as windows and screens that are properly fitted.
  • Drain standing water from the places it collects around your home (bird baths, unfiltered pools) to eliminate breeding habitats. (Drain often; mosquito larvae can develop and become adults in a matter of days.)
  • Clear leaves and debris from gutters and drains to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water.
  • Avoid working or playing outdoors at dawn or dusk when mosquitoes are most active. If you must be outside at these times, wear long sleeves and long pants.
  • Use insect repellent with DEET, applying it not only to skin but to clothing, as well. (Mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing.)
  • If there is an excessive amount of water outside your home, request professional help to apply a larvicide to reduce the mosquito population.

The CDC provides additional advice on protecting yourself and your family from mosquitoes and the diseases they spread.

There are 13 species of mosquitoes which are capable of transmitting diseases. A professional pest prevention company can provide proper control and elimination services through a customized mosquito abatement program.

During the month of June 2016, Massey Services is offering a 10% discount on Mosquito Abatement. Contact Massey Services for a free inspection and learn about our mosquito abatement treatment options.

Termite Threat to Our Biggest Investment

For most of us, our homes are the largest financial investment we’ll ever make. Most people don’t realize the termite threat to our biggest investment. In fact, termites cause more damage to homes in the United States than tornadoes, fires and earthquakes combined – over $5 billion annually.

Massey - Closeup - TermiteLandTermites are silent and very difficult to detect. They can eat on the wood in your home for years before you ever know you have a problem. And each year, unfortunate homeowners fork out thousands of dollars to repair termite damage. If you plan to renovate your bathroom and discover termite damage, it will cost you anywhere between $3,500 and $8,000 to make necessary repairs.

And unfortunately, most homeowners’ insurance does not cover the repair costs of any damage caused by termites.

Termites are active all year round. They get in through plumbing or other openings as well as tiny cracks and crevices about 1/64 of an inch. And it doesn’t matter if your home is made of brick, block or stucco, or even built on a concrete slab. Preventive treatment is critical and is recommended because every home is at risk.

Here are several tips to help you identify termite activity in your home:

  • Termite Wings: Often present after a swarm, wings are typically found in small piles near window ledges or other light sources.
  • Mud Tubes: Made of particles of soil, wood and debris, these allow subterranean termites to reach food sources above ground level.
  • Damaged Wood: This can include wood that sounds “hollow” when it is tapped with the handle of a screwdriver or wood that is soft when probed with a sharp object.
  • Small Holes or Ripples in Drywall: When termites damage wood within your home, they often create tiny holes in the drywall. Extensive damage to the wood can make the drywall look rippled.
  • Pellets: Drywood termites excrete pellets that are kicked out of holes. These pellets often accumulate in piles on window sills, baseboards and under wooden objects.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to protect your home from termites. The financial impact can be devastating.

Contact Massey Services for a free, thorough inspection of your home and learn more about your choices for termite protection.

Tami Swanson Promoted to Senior Director of Multi-Family Division

Tami SwansonTony Massey, President of Massey Services, is pleased to announce that Tami Swanson has been promoted to Senior Director, Multi-Family Division. In her new role, she will continue to lead the multi-family division, developing initiatives to further expand its market penetration and enhancing the division’s customer service, retention and service offerings.

Since joining the company in 2001, she has been responsible for developing the company’s multi-family business, which has grown to $15 million. Prior to Swanson’s promotion, she served as the company’s Director of Corporate Accounts. Over the past year, Swanson managed three of the top six sales performers, who were recognized at Massey’s annual award banquet in 2016.

“During her 15 years with Massey Services, Tami has been the driving force behind the establishment of our Multi-Family Division, growing its sales revenue year-over-year,” said President Tony Massey. “She is deeply involved in the community and the multi-family industry, and she brings a level of excitement to her team that will continue to fuel the growth of this division.”

An Orlando native, Swanson is a National Apartment Association (NAA) Leadership Lyceum graduate and is active on Apartment Associations in three states: Florida, Georgia and Texas. In addition, she is on the Legislative Committee for the Apartment Association of Greater Orlando and participates in a variety of charities, including United Way, Junior Achievement, American Heart Association, Toys for Tots and many others.

Avoiding the Pests Flood Waters Leave Behind

FEMA_-_37590_-_Community_Flooding_in_FloridaSeveral regions have been hit by heavy rains that left behind flooded homes and businesses. Now that the waters have receded, people will be dealing with the cleanup efforts. Pests that sought refuge from the flood waters add a safety concern to the process. Scorpions, snakes – venomous and non-venomous – mice, rats and ants, sought higher ground from the encroaching waters. Now that they’ve found nice dry places that likely have access to food and water, they won’t be leaving in a hurry.

Massey Services, a 31-year professional pest prevention company, offers these tips to help you take back your home or business from these flood refugees.

  • Be alert for wildlife that may have been displaced by the floodwaters. If you suspect pests have made a home for themselves in your home’s crawl space or attic call a professional pest prevention expert to inspect your home. They have the proper safety equipment should they encounter snakes, scorpions and other biting or stinging pests.
  • Chemical snake repellents may not be completely effective. Engage a professional snake handler to trap and remove any snakes you may find.
  • Glue traps and snap traps can work for a few small mice, but larger rodents may require professional-grade traps for removal.
  • Rodents have the potential to carry at least 10 different kinds of diseases, including salmonella, rat-bite fever, bubonic plague and bacterial food poisoning, all of which can cause severe illness and even death. Once they have been removed from the home or business, eliminate entry points to keep them from returning
  • Lock up any food sources in tight containers and eliminate any access to water/moisture.
  • Pests don’t care where their water comes from but they do need to drink water to survive. Drain all containers that may hold standing water, clean out drain pipes and make certain faucets don’t leak.
  • Fire ants are known to cluster on top of flood waters. Once waters recede, the ants tend to wander around for some time until they establish another ground colony.

If you need assistance removing pests after a flood, please contact Massey Services for a free inspection.

MASSEY SERVICES CUSTOMERS:  Please let us know if we can be of assistance in any way.

It’s Bed Bug Awareness Week

bedbugsAs summer travel season approaches, the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA), which serves as the public outreach arm of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), is working to spread public awareness about bed bugs during Bed Bug Awareness Week, June 5-11, 2016. Bed Bug Awareness Week is an annual designation recognized by Chase’s Calendar of Events and is celebrated throughout the pest management industry. In conjunction with PPMA efforts to educate consumers about bed bugs and how to best protect themselves from these transient pests, Massey Services offers the following information:

What are bed bugs and what do they look like?

Bed bugs, a classic travel pest, are small parasitic insects that feed on human blood. Bed bugs are tiny, oval, brown and wingless insects approximately 1/4” to 3/8” long (5-9 mm). As their name implies, these bloodsuckers make their homes in beds, but also in couches, clothing and seats of airplanes and trains. They crawl out of crevices to feed on blood and these painless attacks generally go undetected until a skin rash appears.

What can I do to protect myself?

When checking into a hotel room or after visiting guests have left your home, you can perform a simple bed bug inspection of the room.

  1. Pull pillows and sheets down about 1/3 of the way from the top of the bed and look for reddish-brown or black spots on the sheets near the bed’s headboard. You may not see the actual bugs themselves but they do leave a trail of spots.
  2. Look for spots on mattresses, pillows, headboards and walls behind headboards.
  3. Check the inside of dresser drawers for insects and black spots.
  4. Contact Guest Services immediately if you’ve found any signs of bed bugs during your inspection.

If I suspect I was in a room with bed bugs, what should I do when I return home?

  1. Isolate the items in your travel bags from other items in your home – the garage is a great place.
  2. Put clothing and other heat tolerant items into your dryer for a minimum of 20 minutes – the heat will eliminate bed bugs.
  3. After thoroughly heating the items, wash as normal.
  4. Check all luggage before storing it away. Vacuum out luggage and clean the exterior surface.

What if I have guests staying in my home?

When welcoming family and friends into your home who have been staying in hotels or on a cruise ship, be aware that bed bugs may have hitched a ride with them. After your guests leave, carefully inspect guest rooms for any signs of bed bugs. Wash all bed linens as soon as possible.

If you suspect bed bugs in your home, contact Massey Services for a free bed bug inspection and treatment solutions.

It’s Chinch Bug Season Again

ChinchBugsIt’s already chinch bug season, and now is the time to protect our landscapes from this destructive lawn pest before it multiplies and causes turf damage.

Chinch bugs can occur almost anywhere in a St. Augustine lawn but usually prefer areas in hot, dry locations such as along sidewalks or driveways. You can often see them by examining the grass near the soil surface. According to the University of Florida, this tiny pest, rarely measuring over 6 mm in length, causes millions of dollars in damage per year.

What do they look like?

Chinch bugs are tiny, hard-to-see insects that cause damage that is often confused with drought stress.  They are red (when young) or black (when mature) with a white spot on the back in the shape of an “X.”  As adults, they grow to about 1/4″ long.

How do they cause damage?

Chinch bugs suck the juices from grass blades and inject toxins back into the leaf blade.  Irregular patches of the lawn first look drought-stressed, gradually turn yellow and then brown.  Unless they are eliminated, they will continue to spread throughout the lawn.

What can a homeowner do to prevent them?  

Follow recommended mowing and watering instructions.  Allow treatments to move through the thatch layer of your lawn.  Water deeply, but infrequently, paying close attention to ensure you’re not watering during or right after rainfall.  You should also monitor your irrigation closely to ensure proper coverage and that irrigation heads are working properly.  It is important to sod damaged areas to speed recovery and prevent uncontrollable weeds from invading.

If you suspect you may have chinch bugs in your lawn or want to prevent them from invading, contact Massey Services for a free landscape inspection and a customized solution.

Prepare Your Lawn for the Summer Heat

Massey Services GreenUpEveryone wants a beautiful lawn, but the secret to having a thriving landscape through the heat of summer lies in the lawn care techniques you implement before the heat sets in. By applying a systematic approach, you’ll develop a resilient lawn that’s resistant to the effects of the sun, weeds, pests and heavy foot traffic.

Massey Services offers the following tips to help keep your grass green and prepare your lawn for the summer heat:

  • Water your grass at the first signs of wilt, but abide by local water regulations. Run the system long enough to apply 1/2 to 3/4ths of an inch. Spot watering of localized dry spots may be necessary. No irrigation system is perfect and areas where the root system is shorter will need water more frequently.
  • Follow label directions carefully whether treating your lawn with fertilizer or for insects, diseases or weeds.
  • Test your soil pH. The pH of your soil determines how well fertilizers will benefit your lawn.
  • Micro-nutrients, such as iron and manganese, will not be available to the plant when the soil pH is too high. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are not readily available when the soil pH is too low. Amend the soil pH as needed.
  • Aeration is very beneficial to your lawn, even in Florida’s sandy soils. Aeration allows water and oxygen to better penetrate thatch and soil to reach the root system. It also benefits our environment by helping to prevent nutrient runoff.
  • Mow your lawn at the highest recommended height for your grass type. Different types of turf have different recommendations for mowing height. Standard varieties of St. Augustine should be mowed at 3.5 to 4 inches. Seville is a dwarf variety of St. Augustine and should be mowed at 3 inches. Empire Zoysia should be mowed at 2.5 inches. Bahiagrass should be mowed at 4 inches.
  • Mowing should be performed whenever the grass reaches a height that is 1/3rd higher than the recommended height of cut.
  • Sharpen mower blades frequently for a nice clean cut without ragged edges, which give the lawn an overall gray appearance.
  • Scout for insects such as chinch bugs, sod webworms and other lawn caterpillars as well as mole crickets. Look closely just above the soil surface for chinch bugs and lawn caterpillars.
  • Pouring soapy water over an area suspected of insects will irritate the insects and cause them to come to the surface where they can be seen.

Knowing what to look for is half the battle when it comes to keeping your lawn in great shape. Check your lawn on a regular basis to catch problems early and prevent excessive damage and the potential need to resod.

If you’re looking for expert care for your landscape, contact us for a free inspection. We’ll perform a complete, thorough inspection of your lawn and landscape and develop a customized landscape program specific to your lawn.


A Few Things You May Not Know About Memorial Day

flags-292774_960_720This weekend many people will head to the beach or their favorite picnic location to celebrate the unofficial start of summer. For nearly 150 years, Americans have observed Memorial Day, a day to honor men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

Here are a few facts from History.com that you may not know about Memorial Day:

  • The practice of honoring those who have fallen in battle dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held annual days of remembrance for loved ones, decorating graves with flowers and holding festivals in their honor.
  • In May 1868, General John A. Logan, the commander-in-chief of the Union veterans’ group known as the Grand Army of the Republic, issued a decree that May 30 should become a nationwide day of commemoration for the more than 620,000 soldiers killed in the recently ended Civil War.
  • Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was known by that name for more than a century.
  • Memorial Day didn’t become a federal holiday until 1971.
  • Veterans groups worry that more Americans associate the holiday with the first long weekend of summer instead of its intended purpose of honoring the nation’s war dead and continue to lobby for a return to the May 30 observance.
  • In 1966, 100 years after the town of Waterloo, New York, shuttered its businesses and took to the streets for the first of many continuous, community-wide celebrations, President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation naming the tiny upstate village the “official” birthplace of Memorial Day.
  • The American flag should be hung at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, then raised to the top of the staff.
  • Since 2000 when the U.S. Congress passed legislation, all Americans have been encouraged to pause for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time.

Massey Services hopes all of you enjoy time with family and friends during the long weekend.

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