could you be contributing to the great Bee die off?

joeinmo 6b-7aSeptember 3, 2013

Probably if you use pesticides in your garden or on your trees or buy from places like Lowes or Home Depot or even your hometown garden center.

Did you buy garden plants from Lowes or Home Depot, they use an insecticide on garden plants and trees that has been linked to huge bee decline nationwide.
Bees are essential for one out of three bites of food we eat, and this year beekeepers reported losses of between 40-90 percent of their hives. A growing body of scientific evidence is pointing to the most widely-used pesticide on the planet, neonicotinoids (neonics) as the key factor in this crisis.

You can find bottles of these toxic pesticides on the shelves of your local garden stores and more shockingly, many of the plants and seeds we buy from nurseries for our bee-friendly gardens have been pre-treated with neonics, at doses up to 220 times higher than are used on farms. So, instead of helping bees in our gardens, we may be unknowingly poisoning them.

Fortunately, the European Union banned this toxic pesticide, and major home and garden retailers in the UK have pledged to stop selling neonics. Now we need your help to demand that Home Depot, Lowes do the same in the U.S.

Please tell them to stop using these pesticides and sign the petition

Here is a link that might be useful: Petition to Home Depot and Lowes telling them to help stop killing bees

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I hate to have to tell you it is the mostly widely used class of pesticides in the world now, and the retail sale of it is a drop in the bucket compared to the commercial use. It started out as a pesticide for ornamentals, to be used primarily in an enclosed environment once per growing season. Its label kept getting expanded to now include food production and field use, pet delousers, spraying house foundations, etc ad nauseum.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 4:22PM
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While the matter at hand is serious, I wonder...if, for sake of argument, the pesticide class in question was stopped, what would we use in its place?

Would that pesticide used in place of it work well enough, and would the damage it did be less?


    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 6:41PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

I share your sentiment but do not know what to do about it. Heck, I even use two bug sprays around my home that fit into that category. One for home protection one as an EAB treatment.

But yeah, in the big sense, what do people think, spraying their flowers with insectide will not harm the butterflies the flowers attract.

If it makes ya feel better my ash is treated after it flowers even though I understand some level of imadicloropid (spelled wrong I bet) will stay in it year round.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 7:17PM
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what would we use in its place?

Do we need to use something? How much of pesticide use is simply for cosmetic reasons?

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 9:57PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

"How much of pesticide use is simply for cosmetic reasons"

None of mine lol. I am too cheap AND lazy.

I do like to keep the bugs out of the house and after cutting down three poorly placed white ash trees (and I knew EAB was coming) I can't stand losing that last big ash that was part of the group which gave my home such a good show in the fall.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 3:03AM
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"Do we need to use something?"

Yes. Many people will have definitions of 'need' you will argue with - such as protecting ornamentals from Japanese Beetles. But Calliope indicated it's used in food production, which suggests that a whole lot must be in use.

Interesting thought - Roundup-resistant crops were genetically engineered. Perhaps imadicloropid-resistant bees can be manufactured?

Ah, but I'm guessing THAT would start a new hot controversy. Might be worth doing, though. Bees are important.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 4:45AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

If I have to spray an insecticide on a plant to keep it alive or looking good, I don't plant it. There are plenty of other plants I can plant that don't require the killing of insects.
It's simple and it works for me.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 7:12AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Sometimes the best solution is multi-faceted - systemics for the really tough situations (if they are wind pollinated, it shouldn't harm bees), plus things like pyrethrins, milky spore, other biological controls (Japanese beetles are on my mind), etc.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 8:12AM
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Most of Europe has banned neonicatoids. The problem is also from fungicides, which to my knowledge are not nicotine based. Monoculture doesnt help at all, and niether does shipping bees across the continent.

Im of mind that if I have to baby a plant too much (other then my own choice. I have to bury bamboo here, but again thats MY choice) I do not spray. IF I do I use a bit of dishsoap with water, a drop of olive oil and garlic peels. My goal isnt to eliminate bugs, but to keep them in control. The best thing to do is to leave things alone IMO. Aphids were bad, and didnt get set back until i stopped babying my stuff. Lady bugs moved in.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 8:37AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

I generally leave things alone too, except for a few things:

Japanese beetles
Certain moths/caterpillars (gypsy moths must DIE)

Also, I'll do anything necessary to kill Kudzu (a plant, not a bug, but you get the idea)

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 8:47AM
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I hope many folks know by now that Japanese beetles live as grubs in grass (lawn) roots which they eat. Reduce your lawn and you reduce the source of their food. I reduce my lawn about 2 feet on the western edge every year and I have fewer and fewer JBs each year. I also hand edge my remaining lawn and kill every one of those tiny grubs that I find in the process (you do have to learn to recognize them so that you don't kill good grubs but generally that is all I find in the grass roots).

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 9:17AM
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saccharum(z9 FL)

The EPA did just recently announce that they'll be releasing new labeling requirements of the use of neonicotinoids on plants that may be bee-pollinated. The new labels indicate that one should not apply during flowering. However, IMO it's left very unclear how this guideline relates to soil drenches (as opposed to foliar applications). There have been studies that show that such chemicals can show up in tree nectar months after soil application. See for example Byrne et al. 2013 - in citrus trees, it was present in nectar from flowers that bloomed 232 days after application, although at low levels.

I'm generally not in favor of using insecticides on trees for aesthetic and/or native pests, but this is at least one tool that can be used to manage some exotic tree-killing insects such as emerald ash borer or hemlock wooly adelgid, in a way that is more targeted than surface sprays.

Both ash and hemlock are wind-pollinated, but bees do forage for pollen in addition to nectar, and it's known that soil-applied neonics can end up in pollen. And there's cause for concern not just about honey bees, but also all the native pollinator species out there. It would make life easier if we could dismiss these issues, but based on the recent research I've seen, I don't think we can.

So, this creates a dilemma: do we use these products to try to temporarily protect individual trees from invasive pests that are devastating their species, or do we let them die to avoid harming other species? With EAB now found in Georgia and almost certainly headed to my state soon, this is something I'm thinking about a lot. We need more options, and better ones.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 9:36AM
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I think we can make great strides if we put our money/research where it does the most good. Nobody really can project the ultimate consequences of products introduced into the environment on a massive scale until it has happened and they all have some sort of impact. Massive scale is the most important factor here and that has to do with labeling for use. I see this class of insecticides very appropriate for interior or specific uses. The equation for any chemical changes when we start using it on massive expanses of monocultures. It all goes back to the labeling. The testing of many pesticides when going for labeling is carried out primarily by the companies who produce them. This introduces a bias into the equation, and not necessarily an intentional one. It may simply mean that the regulatory institutions who grant the labels needs to be especially open to studies who challenge a product. Commercial growers are always warned early-on to NOT put all their eggs in one basket with pesticides since resistance always rears its ugly head and it will with this one too and I imagine already has. I suspect agricultural producers have their part in this too since this class is extremely good at what it does, and the product is far less toxic than many other classes of pesticides. IOW just overuse.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 10:13AM
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To add to this discussion is the current suspicion that Monarch butterflies are now in significant decline due to milkweed destruction around crops; this is due to "round up ready" crops allowing farmers to spray adjacent weeds with herbicide much more easily than ever before.

Consequences of our practices are coming back to bite us day after day. Although I'm sure some folks will argue that Monarchs are just pretty bugs, we don't really need them like we do the bees.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 12:12PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

most likely not..

because i buy HARDWARE.. at the HARDWARE store ...

and nursery stock.. from the NURSERY ...


    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 4:01PM
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"Could you be contributing to the great Bee die off?" Probably... I've already bought multiple cans of bee spray... I'm going to be getting a couple more cans here this month.

Those freakin things won't leave me be. They made a huge hive up in the rafters above my front door (I can't to the hive because of the molding). So I just go out there on the weekend and spray dozens as they enter/exit.

I knocked down 3 hives and killed dozens in my building

Some animal dug a hole in the roots of one of my plants. I went to fill it in only to find a bee hive inside. Killed a couple more dozen.

This past weekend I was moving boulders around the edge of the house. The vibration must have made the bees mad... I had to stop because I was being swarmed by what looked like at least 50+ bees. I shot them all down and still didn't get them all. They made a hive under the dirt next to the concrete block of my house.

I've never had this problem in the years past.... maybe it's because my neighbors started there bee combs or whatever you call it. I don't know... but they have become a real problem this year and I don't hesitate to take them out. Leave it go to long and the hives will just get larger with more bees. So I'm correcting the problem before I have one you could say =)

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 4:43PM
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I learned a lot about bees several years ago when I read the Xerces Society book on native pollinators. I had no idea that the VAST majority of bee species are solitary. They build no hive, just create a hole in the ground, bark, a dead stem and in the absence of those things ... manmade lumber. And each species has a preferred habitat.

A single female bee provisions each egg with food for when it hatches - a ball constructed of pollen and nectar that she gathered. She will do a string of eggs sometimes with dividers between them. Then she leaves them alone; she's done.

Yet it is the very few social bees that get all the attention: the European honeybee that builds hives in buildings and which we create hives for so that we can harvest honey; the native yellow jacket that creates hives in the ground and which sting us when we run over them with a lawnmower; the bumblebees (not the same as the carpenter bee which is a solitary bee). But social bees represent only 10% of the species of native bees.

So when people talk about bees dying off, it isn't just the bees that you know as social groups that get in your way ... it is the very many bees that you never really notice but who are out there getting the job of pollination done.

Here is a link that might be useful: native bees

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 6:41PM
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So very true. I work a vegetable garden the old fashioned way, and spend a good deal of time on my hands and knees cultivating and pulling weeds, and sometimes just sit and watch who is pollinating what. Today, around my blooming green beans, very tiny hovering bees were working the blossoms. My colony of honey bees prefer my veggies to flowers. Other insects pollinate besides bees. Even birds and bats pollinate, as well as flies. Our native flora were pollinated long before honeybees ever came to the shores of North America, they are an imported species. Even things we think as being wind pollinated are also visited by bees. Several years ago, I stood for almost an hour watching my honeybees work corn tassles.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 10:12PM
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