Making sure the flowers you grow don’t harm bees
Many common garden sprays, and pyrethrum before it has dried, can be harmful to bees. Some systemic pesticides and fungicides are even being directly linked to colony collapse.
All labels on gardening products do tell you if they are safe for bees or not and warn not to spray when bees are about. Some of these products are systemic pesticides and fungicides which means their active ingredient remains in the plant tissue well after the spray has been applied. Traces of these residual chemicals remain in the plant and the nectar and pollen it produces. When bees and other pollinators gather the nectar and pollen from these poisoned plants they are exposed. This exposure can result in paralysis and even death of the bee. The death of bees is collateral damage of these applications.
The systemic insecticide family called Neonicotinoid is designed to effect the central nervous system of insects causing paralysis before death. It is the most widely used insecticide in the world and has been directly linked to colony collapse disorder. Germany, France, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the State of Oregon in the USA have banned or restricted its use but here in New Zealand its use is prevalent and alarming since bee numbers are in serious decline.
Neonicotinoid in sprays and coated onto seeds are toxic to bees in very low concentrations. It doesn’t make sense to use chemicals which kill bees when there are so many effective chemical free alternatives to deal with the grubs, aphids and other insects.
A pollen hotel can be a great food source for a bee, but when a flower has residual systemic chemicals within it, it becomes a bee death trap.
Read this recent article for more in-depth discussion on Neonicotinoids.
We will be doing more posts on products that are detrimental to bees and alternatives that are bee friendly.
Also check out the post on What seeds are safe for bees?