Healthy or Sterile?

JB and Alice in the Garden

Living Systems Institute and Honeybee Keep sponsor the Bee Safe Neighborhood program.


Here is the question; “Do you want a healthy system or a sterile system?”


When we choose to use a poison to eliminate some species from our yards

there is a series of consequences. It is not only the collateral damage from the poison . . .

all the other bugs that come into direct contact with the poison. It is all the species that

rely on the one we poisoned and all the species that rely on that species. The process of

eliminating species leads toward a sterile system and the end result of that process is a

hospital-like environment.  In hospitals the only things they grow are super bugs that cannot be killed.


The most beautiful places you have ever been are healthy systems.

They are healthy because they have a full range of species participating.


There is an argument, that we can dispute, that it is necessary to grow food in huge acreage

of a single crop, called a monoculture, if we are going to feed the world. The argument goes

that poisons are necessary to protect the crop from pests when you grow crops that way. That

argument leads to huge acreages of sterile crop lands where nothing grows except those

species that are resistant to the poisons.


We do not have that argument in a suburban landscape. Our yards and gardens are polycultures

and we have space for all the predators of all the pests. We can assist nature in becoming

healthy and, because it is healthy, beautiful.


When we poison the aphids on our roses we prevent lady beetles from participating in our garden.

That leads in the direction of a sterile system. When we think of aphids as food for lady

beetles our garden starts to regain its health. A healthy system needs all its parts.


This is your habitat. Do you want it to be sterile or healthy?

If you want it to be healthy, here is the deal. Someone is going to have to talk to that

neighbor down the street who is using these poisons, or hiring people who use these

poisons, thinking that they are safe. That neighbor believes that the poison is necessary

to protect their investment in their plants and does not realize that they are damaging

the health of the habitat. If that conversation does not take place the damage will

continue and build on itself leading in the direction of a hospital environment.


It does not have to be a confrontation.  The message is simple, "have you heard of

the vanishing bees . . .  Even the most committed user of poisons understand the

need for pollinators.  And, even if they do not sign on right away, they will be

watching as we demonstrate how beautiful a healthy system can be.


This is about changing the standard for landscaping in our habitat. We know it is

possible because we know that people prefer beautiful places to hospitals. But

someone has to have that conversation.


Living Systems Institute will certify neighborhoods as bee safe if 75 contiguous

homes sign a pledge not to use systemic poisons. A honey bee will regularly fly

two miles to visit a flower. In that area 75 contiguous homes is just a patch of

healthy habitat.


The 75 homes has to do with the way humans work. There is scientific research

that shows that humans are genetically programmed to want to work together

for the common good within groups of 150 people or less. 75 contiguous homes

is a neighborhood working together to improve its habitat. And that is what the

bees need. That is what we all need if we want to live in a healthy habitat.

Contact Us

  • David Braden IV, Executive Director, Living Systems Institute
  • (303) 549-9787

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