Still buzzing

Neonicotinoids are everywhere

By
May 10, 2012

The pro-bee crowd has been calling for a ban on clothianidin, a systemic pesticide that’s been shown to harm honey bees, for more than a year now. As the Associated Press reported in March, beekeepers are still putting pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency, demanding that neonicotinoids — a class of pesticide that includes clothianidin — be put to rest. So far, the only major shift has been the removal of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid from use in California's almond orchards.

Brandon Keim, who’s been following the bees-and-pesticides story for Wired Science, recently pointed out that the chemical stuff isn’t just a problem on big farms. Since neonicotinoids are more common than you might think, turning up not just in pesticides sold at garden stores but also in nursery-grown plants themselves, the average backyard can be dangerous to bees:

Neonicotinoid pesticides are ubiquitous in everday consumer plant treatments, and may expose bees to far higher doses than those found on farms, where neonicotinoids used in seed coatings are already considered a major problem by many scientists.

As Keim noted, “People may purchase plants with the intent of providing habitat for bees, but end up poisoning them.” Ouch.

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