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The Buzz About Brood XIII Cicadas: No Worries for Honey Bees and Your Vegetable Gardens

As the summer approaches, the anticipation among the folks at Waterford Bee Company and our fellow Wisconsinites grows—not just for the warm weather but for the natural spectacle that’s about to unfold: the emergence of Brood XIII cicadas. Expected to grace us with their presence after a 17-year slumber underground, these cicadas are a topic of much curiosity and concern. However, there’s good news for our buzzing friends, the honey bees, and those of us who love our vegetable gardens.

Cicadas vs. Honey Bees: No Contest Here

First and foremost, let’s address a concern that’s close to our hearts at Waterford Bee Company—the impact of cicadas on honey bees. Cicadas and honey bees live in different niches within our ecosystem. Cicadas, primarily feeding on the sap from tree roots during their nymph stage and then on tree xylem fluid once they emerge, have little to no direct interaction with honey bees. Honey bees, on the other hand, are busy pollinating plants and collecting nectar. The lifecycle and diet of these two insects mean they don’t compete for resources, and thus, the emergence of Brood XIII cicadas should not have any adverse effect on honey bee populations or their activities. It's an excellent reminder of nature’s balance and how every creature has its unique role.

Vegetable Gardens: Should You Be Concerned?

As for our cherished vegetable gardens, the question looms: will the cicadas cause damage? The short answer is, not significantly. Adult cicadas lay their eggs in the twigs of trees, not in garden vegetables. However, the sheer number of cicadas emerging might lead to some minimal physical damage due to their massive numbers landing on young trees, shrubs, and possibly tall garden plants. But fear not, for there are simple steps you can take to protect your gardens:

  1. Netting: Cover young trees and susceptible shrubs with netting (with a mesh small enough to prevent cicadas from getting through). This is particularly crucial for protecting young fruit trees, which can be more sensitive to the weight and activity of cicadas.

  2. Garden Inspection: Regularly inspect your garden for any signs of cicada activity. While they are not interested in your vegetables, being proactive can help you mitigate any incidental damage promptly.

  3. Watering: Keep your garden well-watered. Healthy, robust plants are more resilient to the hustle and bustle of cicadas landing on them.

  4. Patience: Remember, this phenomenon is temporary. Cicadas will be around for a few weeks, and then they will disappear as quickly as they came, not to return for another 17 years.

While the Brood XIII cicadas' emergence is an event that captivates and concerns many, it’s also a remarkable natural event that offers a unique opportunity to observe one of nature’s great cycles. For honey bees and vegetable gardens alike, the impact is minimal with the right precautions. So, let’s embrace this summer with curiosity and appreciation for the intricate web of life surrounding us, knowing that at the Waterford Bee Company, the bees will continue their important work, unbothered by our cicada visitors.

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