Please don’t prune the apple tree

Can I prune my apple trees now? It doesn’t have any fruit and this tree must be pruned. Maybe this will get it to make apples next year.
You make this sound like some kind of punishment for not having apples. The apples aren’t there because the flowers froze off in late April. There a hundreds of thousands of fruit trees in Michigan with the same problem that should be punished, too.

If there are no flowers, there cannot be any fruit. This is hardly the tree’s fault. This definitely not the time to prune anything, apple trees included. The first compelling reason is that we are having record high temperatures and no rain. If people are watering, it is difficult to get a lawn irrigation system to dampen soil to a depth of 2 feet. Typically, a lawn irrigation system moistened the top 3-4 inches of soil. Grass roots are in that area but tree roots are mostly 18-24 inches deep. If you are dragging a hose around, there are too many trees and not enough time. Right now, it’s like putting water on a blotter paper; it is all being wicked away to the dry areas surrounding the spot watering.

All trees and shrubs are extremely stressed. By pruning off branches, you are opening wounds in a stressed tree. The tree will lose even more moisture from the cuts.

When pruning trees in the middle of July or August, if they respond to the damage, they may attempt to put on new growth. There is not enough time before winter for that growth to become tough enough to withstand a cold winter. The tree may experience dieback of the new tissue.

Save your tree pruning for next year. You could prune in late February, March, April or May. It’s just a bit easier to prune if there are no leaves. But do some pruning each year. But pruning is never going to correct freezing damage to flowers.


There are bees or wasps going in and out in a hole in the cement between the bricks on the front of my house. I went out this morning and tried spraying the hole with wasp spray and I got stung but they didn’t go away. What do I do? I can’t harm bees.
The goal here is to do no harm to you. Whether they are bees or wasps, approaching them during the day is going to involve a fair fight and that’s something you don’t want. You want to win and not get stung.

Both bees and wasps have no night vision, so the time to try getting rid of them is at night. The way to tell bees from wasps is that bees are fuzzy and wasps are not. In July, it is much more likely that these are wasps. Do not use spray. It will not get to where your wasps are nesting. You need to buy a powdered insecticide with the active ingredient of carbaryl. That can be found in five percent Sevin Garden Dust.

When it is dark and all the wasps are home watching television, tiptoe to the hole in the wall with the Sevin. Do not have any lights on and do not use a flashlight. This is covert ops. You want to get the Sevin in the hole. You could use a turkey baster, a paper funnel or your hand covered with a plastic glove and Sevin in the palm of your hand. The nest is not directly behind the hole. Get the insecticide in the hole and silently slip into the night.

Check next day for wasp activity. If in a couple of days, it is quiet and uneventful, seal the hole so no more wasps find a vacant apartment. If you close them in, there is a big chance they will chew through the drywall and end up inside with you. Even if these were bees, there are times that there is no practical or inexpensive solution to the problem.

Check the rest of the brick and mortar. It may be necessary to have the mortar repaired or “repointed.”

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