Q: I've had an herb garden for years, and every spring I see honeybees, bumblebees and butterflies. They always come to my lavender bushes and flowering herbs, but this year I haven't seen one honeybee. My friend in Queens who also grows herbs and flowers noticed the same thing. What's happened to the honeybees? Is there something we can grow specifically to attract them back?
--Randee Eckstein, Commack
A: This is a question that has many answers to it. I have a particular interest in honeybees, and I have maintained a beehive in my backyard for many years. I find it very relaxing to just sit and watch them go about their business, and my bees can keep all the honey they produce.
Honeybees live in an enclosed colony and depend on a single food source. When something goes wrong with either of those situations, there are problems. All over the United States, many bee colonies mysteriously die each year -- scientists call it colony collapse disorder. Lack of variety in their diet, hive parasites such as mites, a suppressed immune system and pesticides are some of the many factors that lead to colony collapse disorder.
This is an issue that affects everyone. Without honeybee populations, none of our food crops will get pollinated.
There are a few ways you can help. Learn more at the U.S. Department of Agriculture website at nwsdy.li/bees
Q: You recently printed a letter from a reader who had a dachshund that turned into "a snarling wolf" when he had to get his nails trimmed. We just got a pit bull mix puppy, and we would like to know if you have any tips on what we can do to raise him in a manner so he allows us to trim his nails without any drama.
--Jennifer Gross, Hewlett
A: It is always nice to be proactive rather then reactive. Each animal accepts nail trimming in a different way -- some couldn't care less and others go into full-blown drama -- and it does not always have to do with the technique used for trimming the nails.
The easiest way to get a dog to accept nail trimming is to start it regularly as a puppy by grabbing and touching the dog's toes in a nonconfrontational manner and touching the nail trimmer to the nails, even if the nails do not need to be trimmed. Sitting on the floor with the puppy in your lap and going through this a few times a week can make all the difference in the world when the dog grows up.
With small dogs, you may not even need to use a trimmer. When the dog is a puppy, just filing the nails regularly with a strong emery board can ensure you will have no problems with nail care when the puppy gets older.
If a puppy does not like its toes and feet touched, then most likely it will not like them touched as an adult. For those dogs, the desensitization methods described above seldom work. You have to teach the dog that nail trimming is not an issue to be feared, but you have to start this before the dog is old enough and big enough to realize that in a rodeo between a dog and the human trying to trim its nails, the dog will always win.
The best way is to use two people. One person gently restrains the dog and holds a spoon of peanut butter or some other sticky food that will take a while for the dog to lick off a spoon. As the dog is licking the peanut butter, the other person can touch the dog's toes and make believe the nails are getting trimmed. You may have to do this in stages. If the puppy is hyper and sensitive about its toes just being touched, there is no point in moving up to cutting the nails until the dog is comfortable with phase one.
When the session is over, praise the dog and give it a final treat. You may have to have two or three more spoonfuls of peanut butter loaded and handy to allow yourself time to do all four paws. The key is to teach the dog this is a fun event and nothing bad is happening. When the dog realizes this is fun, it will think that for the rest of its life -- as long as you are consistent.
Only use this peanut butter treat when the nail trimmers come out and the dog's toes get manipulated.
If this all sounds very time- consuming, it is. The realities of daily life in many households mean that trimming our pets' nails is put off as long as possible -- until we just have to take them to a professional to get it done. I am as guilty of this as anyone.