If you have been worried that the flowers you bring home from Lowe’s and other big nurseries will kill the bees and butterflies, you may be comforted to know that Lowe’s and other big stores are lurching into action, getting ready to remove the offending, neonicotinoid-treated plants. But for now, it’s still, consumer beware, or at least, consumer, ask a lot of questions.
You may not think you can do much to save the honey bees, which continue to die in alarming numbers worldwide. But you can take a stand in your home landscape by banning a class of pesticides that are especially harmful to bees.
Beekeepers and environmental groups sued the EPA this week for allowing pesticides that are causing an epidemic of bee deaths. The suit asks the agency to suspend the permits for certain pesticides, which have been shown to poison bees, which in turn threatens a wide array of crops dependent on bee pollination.
Rachel Carson once warned the world that the pesticides we were using to kill weeds were devastating birds, threatening to bring on a ‘Silent Spring’. People woke up and banned the potent herbicide DDT, saving the American Bald Eagle and countless song birds (and fish, farm animals, trees and more). They began to control pollution and clean up rivers and lakes, answering Carson’s clarion call.
Pollinators, mainly bees, but also butterflies, songbirds and even bats, perform such a critical function in the food chain that their absence threatens everything from the viability of vast fields of commercial corn and other crops to the tomatoes in your garden. Without the bees and other pollinators, plants can fail to produce the fruits and seeds we eat.
Which is why a San Francisco-based group called the Pollinator Partnership has dedicated itself to the survival of pollinators — from hummingbirds to small mammals to the fragile and busiest pollinators of them all, the bees. Partnership members, along with beekeepers and researchers testified before Congress last week to lobby lawmakers for more funding to research the decline of many pollinators, particularly the loss of millions of bees around the world to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).