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Posted On: 20 October 2019 09:12 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:05 pm

SustainableQATAR’s Weekly Challenge 34~ Beneficial Bugs

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SustainableQATAR’s 52 weekly challenges – that is one challenge per week for a whole year themed by month – are Qatar-specific and Qatar-relevant opportunities for all residents to take actions in personal life, work and within our communities.

Read the blog post on the October Theme – GARDENING

With healthy soils and proper plants in place, our gardens are starting to brim with life. It is now time to sit back and enjoy ‘Jurassic Park’ in our backyards. That’s surely a dream come true for many of us – to watch nature! In Doha! Without leaving our houses! This is a fun time to get the children out, too, to observe and play with the bugs and reap the many cognitive benefits as addressed in Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.

Fearless Gardening for climate action – Attracting bees, birds and beneficial bugs to our gardens to enjoy our green oasis.

Who has such a vision? Or determination? We do, and here is how beneficial bugs make our life easier by taking over many important tasks from pollination to pest control!

Perhaps calling microorganisms and insects ‘bugs’ may not sound like a compliment, but it is! So many little creatures are ‘knocking’ on our garden doors and want to move in and enjoy it as well. And we need them, too! There are a number of pesky bugs and a much larger number of beneficial bugs that are essential for maintaining balance in our newly created diverse ecosystems and urban oases. Fearless gardening for climate action is all about biological pest control, free of toxins and chemicals that would harm us directly, the plants in our garden or the food we grow in our gardens.

Get started with these tips

  • Enjoy the beneficial bugs by allowing them to make a home in our gardens. Ants are a sign of a healthy garden.
  • Install bird houses into your trees, out of reach of feral cats, to attract resident birds to the garden
  • Place at least one shallow birdbath in the garden to provide water for birds to drink and bath in. Clean the birdbath daily with a brush to prevent mold growth and mosquitoes to breed.
  • Build an insect hotel next to the composting bin to invite beneficial bugs to the “insect bed and breakfast.” When insects have food and a place to stay outside, they won’t come into the house!
  • Keep the gardens toxic and chemical free to increase biodiversity and biological activity above and underground. Remember, the more organic matter in the soils, the more carbon sequestration!
  • Do not allow pesticides, insecticides or any other poison near the garden to protect our human and environmental health.

The most common beneficial insects we see in Doha, besides ants, are wild bees. These bees are non-aggressive. They are wild bees, not apiary or honey bees, and do not produce honey for harvesting. They frequently come, build a hive and really just mind their own business supporting themselves and pollinating all plants around us as an ecosystem service, free of charge to us. After 3 to 6 months the bees abandon their hive and move on to the next flowering tree and nectar supply. What remains is the decorative beehive sculpture in our yards or trees.

As long as the hive isn’t next to our doors that would affect us and bother or frighten the bees, please do not remove the bees, but watch and enjoy them! The long-term benefits (educational and pure fascination) of observing the wonders of nature from the convenience of our homes here in Qatar will most likely outweigh the ‘inconvenience’ of limited access to a corner of our backyards.

If, however, the beehive needs to be removed, please use a hose and water to deter the bees and make them move on without hurting them, or make a bonfire as they don’t like smoke.

Founder of Bu Saif Apiaries, Khalid Alsowaidi, is Qatar’s local bee expert. He is committed to bee education and creating local habitat for bees that is free of toxins and chemicals.