Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

Saving Honeybees

image1A while ago I wrote about the return of the western bumblebee and the efforts one could take to create a more welcome environment for bumblebees to thrive. As it turns out, the problem with bee scarcity may extend to more than just those under the prefix of bumble. As reported by Time Magazine, honeybees, otherwise known as pollinators of apples, watermelons, cucumbers, and more, are dying in numbers these days due to the harms of pesticides.

A new class of pesticides called neonicotinoids are hurting or killing bee colonies left and right. Here’s how you might be contributing to the problem without even knowing it: a new report has emerged that finds 54 percent of common garden plants sold by top retailers to contain neonicotinoid pesticides,  and there’s no warning label to be seen on the plants. This means that your good intentions-whether they be an organic garden or just some sprucing up of the yard-may instead be harming the earth due to this nasty pesticide, which can also hurt butterflies, ladybugs, earthworms, and even birds.

Ahead of the curve as usual it seems, Europe banned neonicotinoid pesticides in April 2013, a wise move that the U.S. is yet to perform. At this point it looks like the best course of action to take is to buy native flowers and plants if you have the space, which will give bees their needed nutrients and allow them to continue pollinating (check out the Washington Native Plant Society for an in-depth exploration of Washington’s native foliage). Purchasing organic, untreated seeds for your garden is another crucial step. Avoid the big chains and look to local nurseries, a list of which can be found at the bottom of this post. Check around the house for any items that you might not have known contained neonicotinoid pesticides, and if you find any, look for alternatives. As usual with environmental issues, one harm is often tied to many others, and as bees can be said to be responsible for every one in three mouthfuls of food that we eat, a startling find that took me by surprise, this one has an extensive reach that hits all of us in a very direct way.


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