Neonics are a group of pesticides that are used throughout the world. Evidence is collecting that the pesticides are contributing to the massive numbers of bees that are dying or disappearing from their colonies. Bee colonies have become a major industry in agribusiness for their ability to pollinate fruit and vegetable crops. Any honey that the beekeepers collect is secondary to their importance for helping businesses have abundant harvests. The pesticides do not break down readily and have been found to accumulate in the environment potentially affecting wild bees and other beneficial pollinators and soil microbes. Fertile soil is a living system of many types of microbes and the more familiar earthworms.
Poisoning the bottom of the food chain ultimately poisons the entire food chain – of which we are a member – a top member as our natural predators have largely been controlled or conquered.
The non-profit organization Friends of the Earth, BeeAction.org, provided a mailing with a list of the neonics and popular brands that may contain the pesticides.
The ingredients to avoid include:
Acetamiprid, Clothianidin, Dinotefuran, Imidacloprid, and Thiamethoxam. The pesticides are produced and marketed by companies such as Bayer and Sygenta.
They may be found in products marketed to individual consumers by the brands:
Aloft, Arena, Allectus, Atera, Bithor, Caravan, Coretect, Derby, Dino, Dominion, Equil Adonis, Flagship, Flower, Rose, & Shrub Care, Gaucho, Grub-No-More, Grubout, Hawk, Imaxxpro, Ima-Jet, Imi Insecticide, Imicide, Imid-Bifen, Imida-Teb Garden SC, Imidapro, Imigold, Lada, Malice, Mallet, Mantra, Marathon Meridian, Merit, Nuprid, Optigard Flex, Pasada, Pointer Insecticide, Premise, Pronto, Prothor, Safari, Sagacity, Sparkle: Bounty, Tandem, Temprid, Triple Crown Insecticide, Tristar, Turfthor, and Xytect.
Avoiding those products and encouraging your lawn and garden center to stop carrying them may help commercial and wild bees to live their normal lifespans.
Planting beneficial flowering plants and shrubs that haven’t been pre-treated with neonics may also support commercial and wild bees. Part of the problem for commercial bees is that their diet is too limited. Their colonies are trucked from crop to crop where the bees pollinate whatever single crop they were hired to pollinate and the bee keepers provide some nutritional supplements. However in the wild bees would have flitted from one type of flower to another and gathered many different types of pollen so individual gardeners and agribusiness owners could help feed the bees a more varied diet by planting beneficial wildflowers in flower beds and along the margins of agricultural fields.
The Friends of the Earth mailing includes a list of beneficial flowering plants that might help provide the variety of pollen that bees need for a strong immune system. The neonics have been found harmful to bees in a few different ways. They act as a stimulant which can confuse the bees so that they can’t find their way back to their colony (which explains the colonies that simply disappear), and the pesticides weaken the bees immune system leaving them more susceptible to diseases and smaller infectious pests like mites. Providing bees healthier natural food sources that haven’t been contaminated with neonic pesticides could help boost their immune system and make them more resistant to disease and infectious pests.
Beneficial flowering plants, shrubs, and trees for the home garden or agricultural waysides:
Aster, Black-Eyed Susan, Blazing Star, Calstrop, Creosote Bush, Currant, Elder Flower, Goldenrod, Huckleberry, Joe Pye Weed, Lupine, Oregon Grape, Penstemon, Purple Coneflower, Rabbitbush, Rhododendron, Scorpion Weed, Snowberry, Stonecrop, Sunflower, Wild Buckwheat, Wild Lilac, Willow, Woodland Sage.
– Information provided by the Friends of the Earth, BeeAction.org, non-profit organization. The organization works on a variety of issues that affect our environment and they collaborate internationally with partners from 74 countries around the world – the world’s largest network of environmental activists.
The most widely used neonics were banned in the European Union in 2013 and within the nation of Italy more bees survived. In 2008 in Italy 37.% of bee colonies were lost and after the ban was enacted only 15% of bee colonies have been lost/died.
Seeking organic plants for purchase from lawn and garden centers may also help bees because seeds and palnts that are pretreated with neonics can still end up spreading the poison to the plant’s pollen and into the surrounding soil and waterways.
Friends of the Earth, 1101 15th Street, NW, 11th Floor, Washington, DC 20005, 1-866-217-8499, www.foe.org
/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./