An article in the journal Nature this week entitled “The bitter battle over the world’s most popular pesticides,” reviews the research looking at whether neonicotinoid pesticides pose a significant threat to bees.
The European Union has acted in a precautionary manner and restricted the neonics imidacloprid and clothianidin, made by agrochemical giant Bayer, and thiamethoxam, made by Syngenta. In some studies honeybees weren’t significantly affected by exposure, but bumblebees were. In some conditions and some locations honeybees were also affected. Importantly, when combined with other insecticides such as pyrethrins, as they usually are, the effects were worse than either alone. And when neonics are sprayed on seed, they persist in the plant and its flowers.
the upshot is that many of the academics Nature talked to agree that research has shown that neonicotinoids lead to weakening of bee populations.
Farmers like neonics because they believe that when combined with other pesticides they can lead to up to a 4% increase in crop production. Clearly, this is not something we need in our yards!
The takeaway for gardeners:
Buy plants that have not been treated with neonics, so that we are not poisoning the pollinators we are trying to protect and nurture.
Also, if these chemicals are not good for bees, they are not good for us.
Look at the graph from the article. Pesticide usage is soaring. That is bad for our water quality, our soil microbes, and our health.