Becketwood Gardens and Bees
Compiled by Carol Masters, Becketwood Member
This spring Becketwood gardeners have been concerned about bees and other pollinators, reading about the dangers that pesticides, especially neonicotinoids that some nursery suppliers use, pose to bees. Neonicotinoids are believed be a factor in bee die-offs or colony collapse.
The recent Friends Plant Sale (May 9, 10) booklet alerted its customers that their perennials and vegetables would be neonicotinoid-free. They published an article about pesticide dangers: As well as directly killing pollinators, “at sub-lethal levels they may kill also, but indirectly, by disrupting the immune system and the navigational system, at least in bees. Responding to these concerns, in 2013 the European Union imposed a two-year moratorium on some uses of three of these neonicotinoids.”
Paige Pelini of Mother Earth Gardens notes that their role in bee decline, as well as how long the pesticide remains active and toxic, is unknown and being studied. (Further info here.) For now, gardeners are advised to question the source of their plants and seeds and avoid these pesticides.
Many garden retailers are aware of the concern and have taken care to buy from suppliers that do not use the poison. As the Tribune article noted, Mother Earth, at 42nd Ave and 38th St, contacted growers and “stopped purchasing perennials from one local grower who could not assure them that plants were not being treated. All of Mother Earth’s current suppliers for seeds, vegetables and herbs are 100 percent organically grown, and annuals and perennials are 90 percent organically grown,” according to Pelini.
Bachman’s has removed products containing neonicotinoids from its store shelves, and was eliminating the use of neonicotinoids in its nursery stock and outdoor plants at its growing range in Lakeville. Plants from other growers may not have been treated, but Bachman’s will identify and label its own plants. Gertens, too, has decided to “err on the side of caution, eliminating the use of neonicotinoids on bedding-plant crops.”
Agribusinesses, however, are pushing back. Monsanto, despite its “Honeybee Advisory Council” has joined Bayer and Syngenta in launching a massive public relations campaign to convince consumers that their pesticides aren't to blame for Colony Collapse Disorder. According to the Organic Consumers Association, “as the world's largest seed corporation and a top agrochemical manufacturer, Monsanto has a lot of business at stake in the bee crisis because it sells seeds pre-treated with neonics.” Monsanto promotes Acceleron® as a designer seed treatment for its genetically modified seeds—corn, soy, and cotton. In the U.S., roughly 90 percent of corn is treated with neonicotinoids.
The Friends Plant Sale urges growers to ask your supplier about plant sources and to spread the word to your gardening friends. Check labels and avoid products that contain the following:
Other sources of information include:
“Pesticide Lobby Spends Millions To Defend Chemicals Tied To Bee Deaths” (Huffington Post)
“Warning Signs: How Pesticides Harm the Young Brain” (The Nation)
Local resources for information on bees and bee-friendly plants: