Skip to main content

Your Garden Is Probably Killing Bees

Where I grew up, gardening is pretty much a must do activity. Every spring, my dad and I went to our local nursery to buy seeds and spent all the hot summer months tending to the plants, only to enjoy our harvest every fall. We even had a bee hive for fresh honey. Even though our garden was always insect friendly, a new study shows that one bug we think we are helping out may be dying off because of our gardening efforts

According to Wired some gardens with plants deemed bee friendly may actually be contributing to deaths of bees. Plants sampled from retailers many hobby gardeners shop at, like Walmart, were found to contain neonicotinoids which are highly toxic for bees and other insects that pollinate plants like butterflies. The pesticide in question is used to kill off things like mites that can be pesky for farmers. Unfortunately, the traces on your plants means your little outdoor haven may be a huge nightmare for the bees.

Neonicotinoids impair the immune system and a bee's sense of navigation. Basically, they can make a garden unnavigable and cause them to never make it back to their hive. The chemicals at their highest doses are more harmful. The plants from 18 locations were tested all over the place from high to low levels and even low levels caused issues. The Pesticide Research Institute, which released and sponsored the study, says that people may have good intentions. For years we have heard about declining bee populations and how we need to help out somehow. Apparently these flower gardens aren't the way to go about it, unless they're free of chemicals that hurt the bees.

The research group studied 71 popular varieties like daisies and lavender. Almost all the plants bought in both the United States and Canada tested positive for at least some trace of the pesticide. The threat seems highest for wild bees that aren't domesticated. Domestic bees tend to live in hives with hundreds of others and if a few go missing or die, they can manage. Wild bees, however, may only have a couple dozen bees to a hive. When they die and no pollen comes back to convert into honey, the whole hive may die.

Environmental groups are now pushing for the EPA to crack down on neonicotinoid use and research its effects more thoroughly. Many retailers, especially smaller chains, have pledged not to sell plants with the chemicals. Some states are considering banning their use completely too. Congress is even considering a bill aimed at saving pollinating insects from disappearing from the landscape. While some may see this as silly, bees and butterflies are key in getting our farms, including big ones, to produce enough food to feed us. And if there's one thing Americans have, it's an insatiable appetite