Recent studies have shown the detrimental effects that neonicotinoids have on many pollinators, especially honeybees. “Neonics,” as they are commonly called, are a class of pesticides that have both acute and long-term effects on bees, birds, butterflies and other pollinator species. These systemic insecticides are taken up by plants and cause entire plants, including pollen and nectar, to become toxic. The chemicals break down slowly and build up in soil. As I mentioned in my January eNews article, they are powerful neurotoxins and are a major cause of the decline in numbers of pollinators.
Just last month, in January 2017, the US Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged that neonicotinoids pose significant risks to commercial honeybees. However, the agency also backed away from rules that would restrict the use of these pesticides when commercial honeybees are present in a field. Instead, it announced voluntary guidelines. (Does the EPA REALLY think voluntary guidelines will make a difference?)
Thanks to Joyce Kennedy, Outreach & Advocacy Coordinator of the People and Pollinators Action Network, here are some excellent resources about recent research. GCD Members Deborah Foy and Cindy Scott are both active beekeepers and they would be able to answer any questions you might have. It’s a topic that is of critical importance to all of us gardeners!