Are We Killing the Honeybees?

Dead honey bee upside down on a sidewalk Scientists believe a type of pesticide is causing mass honeybee deaths. Image: Kutsuks/iStockphoto

Some researchers say pesticides that home owners use to control lawn grubs are killing honeybees and causing colony collapse disorder.

Are we unknowingly hurting the honeybees?

Researchers are linking the disappearance of honeybee colonies around the world to a category of pesticides — neonicotinoids — that corn farmers use to prevent infestation and home owners use to get rid of grubs that turn their lawns brown.

Friends of honeybees say neonicotinoids poison bees, causing some to to abandon their hive — even in winter — a mass bee suicide. Considering that honeybees pollinate roughly one-third of the crops we eat — apples, blueberries, melons, pumpkins, squash, and cucumbers — anything that hurts the bees hurts us, too.

Although the EPA last week denied a petition to ban clothianidin, a popular neonicotinoid, its researchers have said the chemical is “highly toxic” to honeybees and poses “potential for long-term toxic risk to honeybees and other beneficial insects.”
We don’t know who’s right. But why not play it safe and help protect all bees? Here’s how:

  • Stop using lawn insecticides containing neonicotinoids. Check labels for clothianidin and imidacloprid (popular neonicotinoids).
  • Ask neighbors to stop using neonicotinoids, because the chemicals will spread to your yard.
  • If you must use the pesticides, apply when lawns aren’t flowering and when bees aren’t around.
  • To stop grubs organically, use milky spore, a bacteria.
  • Keep a couple of hives in your yard. The bees will pollinate your garden and gardens throughout your neighborhood.
  • If you have a bee infestation, call your local bee club — not an exterminator — for bee-friendly ways of controlling populations.

What do you think is killing the bees? Will you stop using pesticides to protect the bees?