Wouldn’t it be terrible if the nectar this bee is collecting had somehow been poisoned so as to be toxic to the bee and the bee’s nest?
This has become a real possibility with the worldwide increasing use of neonicotinoid pesticides.
Most of the following information comes from a report – “ARE NEONICOTINOIDS KILLING BEES?” (sometimes called the Penn State Report) — by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. Material copied verbatim from that report is enclosed in square brackets.
WHAT ARE NEONICOTINOIDS?
Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides that are absorbed into the plant vascular system and can accumulate in the plant’s nectar and pollen.
HOW ARE NEONICOTINOIDS APPLIED?
Neonicotinoids are applied by many methods including foliar spraying, soil drench, seed coating, and trunk injections for trees.
WHAT EFFECTS CAN THESE PESTICIDES HAVE ON BEES?
- [Neonicotinoid residues found in pollen and nectar are consumed by flower-visiting insects such as bees. Concentrations of residues can reach lethal levels in some situations.
- Direct contact with foliar sprays is hazardous to pollinators and foliar residues on plant surfaces remain toxic to bees for several days.
- Honeybees exposed to sublethal levels of neonicotinoids can experience problems with flying and navigation, reduced taste sensitivity, and slower learning of new tasks, which all impact foraging ability.
- Laboratory studies demonstrate that the neonicotinoids imidacloprid and clothianidin are highly toxic to bumble bees.
- Bumble bees exposed to sublethal amounts of neonicotinoids exhibit reduced food consumption, reproduction, worker survival rates, and foraging activity.
- Evidence has not been obtained for a direct link between neonicotinoids and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). However, research suggests these chemicals may make honey bees more susceptible to parasites and pathogens implicated as a causative factor in CCD.]
HOW WIDESPREAD IS THE USE OF THESE PESTICIDES?
- [These pesticides have been in use since the 1990’s. As of 2012 neonicotinoid pesticides had been applied to hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland.
- They have been approved for home and garden use and may be applied to ornamental and landscape plants, as well as turf, at significantly higher rates (potentially 120 times higher) than those approved for agricultural crops.]
In 2014, Common Dreams reported that an examination by Friends of the Earth found that more than half the plants being sold at major garden retailers as “bee-friendly” have been treated with neonicotinoids. Thus, ironically, people purchasing such plants may actually be poisoning their bees. (Some of the retailers found to be selling neonicotinoid-tainted garden products are attempting to correct the situation. Thus, Home Depot has said they plan to ban or limit the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. They will require suppliers to start labeling any plants treated with these chemicals by the fourth quarter of 2014. They are also “running tests” to see if suppliers can eliminate these chemicals in their pant production.)
HOW PERSISTENT ARE THESE PESTICIDES ONCE THEY HAVE BEEN APPLIED?
- [They persist in the soil and plants for very long periods of time (months and years).
- Measurable amounts of residues are found in woody plants up to six years after application.
- Untreated plants may absorb residues in the soil from the previous year.
- Neonicotinoids applied to crops can contaminate adjacent weeds and wildflowers.
- It has been suggested that seed treatments may be less harmful than other application methods because concentration of the insecticide decreases over time as the biomass of the growing plant increases. However…. studies examining repeated use of seed-treatments over time noted that untreated sunflowers absorbed residual imidacloprid from the previous year’s treated sunflower plantings. Based upon these findings, annual plantings of seed-treated crops may lead to increased residue levels that may pose more of a risk to bees, since residues from previous seasons remain.]
WHAT EFFORTS HAVE BEEN MADE TO REDUCE USE OF THESE PESTICIDES?
- In 2013, the European Union banned for a 2 yr. period the use of 3 neonicotinoids, imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxan. The European Food Safety Authority found that these insecticides pose acute risks to bees.
WHAT IS THE STANCE OF THE EPA WITH RESPECT TO THESE INSECTICIDES?
- In 2010, 2012, and again in 2013 following the EU ban, beekeepers and environmentalists called on EPA to impose similar bans. The EPA has rebuffed these calls.
- The story of the EPA approval of clothianidin is informative. In 2003 EPA granted a “conditional” registration to this chemical based on the contingency that a study be performed on its safety. The study was to be performed by none other than Bayer, the pesticide’s manufacturer. In 2010 a leaked memo indicated the study was fatally flawed.
According to beekeeper Jeff Anderson, who has testified before EPA on the topic, “The Bayer study is fatally flawed. It was an open field study with control and test plots of about 2 acres each. Bees typically forage at least 2 miles out from the hive, so it is likely they didn’t ingest much of the treated crops. And corn, not canola, is the major pollen-producing crop that bees rely on for winter nutrition. This is a critical point because we see hive losses mainly after over-wintering, so there is something going on in these winter cycles. It’s as if they designed the study to avoid seeing clothianidin’s effects on hive health.”
IS THERE EVIDENCE THAT NEONICOTINOIDS ARE POISONOUS TO OTHER SPECIES BESIDES BEES?
- A recent study published by Dutch scientists establishes an additional indirect link between neonicotinoid use and insect-eating birds. The report provides evidence that these pesticides are indirectly hurting larger creatures by reducing insect prey populations such as mosquitoes and beetles.
- Another report by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides states that terrestrial invertebrates such as earthworms can be adversely affected by low or acute (i.e. ongoing) exposure to neonicotinoids, making them highly vulnerable at field realistic concentrations – i.e., the concentrations which can be found in agriculture.
- Still another meta-analysis of systemic pesticides by IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature) confirms that they are causing significant damage to a wide range of beneficial invertebrate species, e.g. bees, butterflies and earthworms, and are a key factor in the decline of bees. They go on to state, “Neonics are a nerve poison and the effects of exposure range from instant and lethal to chronic. Even long term exposure at low (non-lethal) levels can be harmful. Chronic damage can include: impaired sense of smell or memory; reduced fecundity; altered feeding behaviour and reduced food intake including reduced foraging in bees; altered tunneling behaviour in earthworms; difficulty in flight and increased susceptibility to disease.”
Dig a hole, put the tree in, put some of the soil back. EASY!
But wait! There’s more…
Inspecting the root ball, digging a hole of the right size and planting at the correct depth can make a big difference for your tree.
Please attend our next meeting for tips on proper planting as well as suggestions on how to select and care for a new tree.
Increasing tree canopy is on of the best things we can do for the watershed and so we want new trees to live a long, productive life.
Space is limited so please register soon using the form below
Please join us for a walk in the park on June 11 led by Suzette Lyon and Bill Shanabruch.
We will leave from the Stone House at 6:3o p.m. and expect the walk to take 45 – 60 minutes. Along the way we will see examples of tree planting success, discuss the effects of storm water that flows down Reedy Creek into the lake, identify some invasive species and see some lovely native plants including the wild ginger pictured below. If you have binoculars, you might want to bring them.
A short business meeting will follow the walk.
Please e-mail email@example.com if you plan to attend.
Do you have something growing in your yard that looks like this in early May?
Here is another picture of the same plant in another yard. In this picture you see why it is called Rudbeckia triloba. Many if its leaves are “three lobed.” Not all though — the shape of the leaf can vary considerably. Other names for it are “thin-leaf coneflower” and “brown-eyed susan.”
If you ARE lucky enough to have some of this in your yard, put a little fence around it right away to prevent it from being mowed. Come August or so, it will look like this:
These flowers are loved by goldfinches and many pollinators such as butterflies.
They are especially wonderful blooming in large masses:
If you gaze closely at a mass of them, you can become a little “hypnotized” and swear they are looking back at you. No flower expresses more wonderfully the “joy of being alive.”
Join us to find and remove English ivy seedlings and small plants that are just getting started in areas where lovely native wildflowers still exist.
We will walk the woods to search for and removing these small plants before they become big problems. This search and destroy mission even has a name in the invasive species world…
Early Detection, Rapid Response
Here are the details:
Saturday, May 3 9:00 am – Noon
or as long as you can stay.
Meet at the lake near the dam. The work area is downstream from there, toward Riverside Drive.
Removing the plants will be easy, but we will be working on a slope. Wear good, sturdy shoes, bring garden gloves if you have them, and water.
A few people will be asked to remove some larger invasives, but most of us will walk the woods.
Please register here …
Questions ?? firstname.lastname@example.org
Come to our meeting at the Stone House on April 9, 6:30 – 8:00 to learn why native plants are the answer!
Admission is free, but space is limited
To sign up to attend this presentation, please click on the following link: