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Bees in the Garden

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As a gardener and healthy food advocate, this article about  “friendly” plants for bees in the garden is disturbing.  The Center for Food Safety is reporting that certain top plant retailers (including Home Depot and Lowe’s) have been selling “bee friendly” plants which have been previously treated with pesticides from the neonicotinoid class of chemicals (those chemicals are suspects in the rapidly declining bee population.)  Many gardeners shop specifically for plants that attract bees, and to know that they may be purchasing plants that are harmful would be more than upsetting.

There’s a lot of debate about this class of pesticides.  What we know is that the bee population is disappearing at an alarming rate.  The EU has placed a 2-year ban on neonicotinoids in an effort to start a bee recovery – without them, agriculture as we know it will be drastically changed.  Pesticides are effective and necessary, but not at the expense of losing something vital to our food chain.

The article at the Center for Food Safety provides other good information on bees, including a petition requesting retailers to rid their stores of plants treated with these chemicals – check it out.  Surely the very least we can do to support bee population is to ensure that the plants we use to entice them to our gardens are safe for them!

Anecdote:  I recently spoke with a bee keeper who has been raising bees successfully for years (as a hobby).  Until, that is,  the 50-acre tract adjacent to his property was purchased and the owner (a farmer) started dusting his crops regularly (unknown chemical, but regular sprayings).  Suddenly, the bees disappeared – just gone!  There is no recourse – the chemicals sprayed are legal and the fact that it floats to his property is too.

One theory is that the chemicals disorient the bees and they can’t find their way home.  Neonicotioids are also toxic to birds, aquatic invertebrates and other wildlife.

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