Friday, July 12, 2013

The Buzz: Banning the Bee-Killers

Fifty thousand bees killed in a Wilsonville parking lot. Millions of bees killed in a single event in Canada. All laid to the use pesticides containing a group of chemicals called neonicotinoids, which are used in many commercial sprays and can even be purchased in most hardware stores and nurseries under various trade names.

Today Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer joined Xerces Society executive director Scott Hoffman Black in introducing the Save American Pollinators Act. The legislation suspends the registration of any neonicotinoid for use in seed treatment, soil application or foliar treatment on bee-attractive plants until the Environmental Protection Agency reviews these chemicals and makes a new determination about their proper application and safe use.

The fact that neonicotinoids are known to kill pollinators like bees and other beneficial insects is not news. The European Union banned neonicotinoids earlier this year, noting the chemicals, which attack the insects' nervous systems, could be directly related to falling bee numbers. Neonicotinoids were originally thought to be a "silver bullet" pesticide because they are absorbed into the plant tissues, meaning they aren't washed off by rain and they remain in the tissue for a significant period after application.

Unfortunately for the insects that depend on the plants for their survival, the chemicals are also found in the flower nectar and pollen when the plant blooms. The University of Minnesota’s Dr. Marla Spivak, a leading global authority on bee health, said that in addition, neonicotinoids "are long-lasting in soil and they readily move into water. If the Oregon event is an indication of what is happening more widely, we will begin to see catastrophic threats to food security and the pollination of wild plants."

The announcement of the Save the Pollinators Act was announced in Portland, Oregon, at Garden Fever, a local nursery that has pulled all products containing neonicotinoids from their shelves.

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Meet Representative Earl Blumenauer and express your support for the Save the Pollinators Act at the Sabin Neighborhood Bee-Friendly Garden Tour, an event to celebrate bee-friendly gardening with a tour of neighborhood backyards and gardens. It's also a great way to learn more about how to make your yard and garden more friendly to pollinators!

Details: Sabin Neighborhood Bee-Friendly Garden Tour. Sun., July 14, 11 am-3 pm. Rep. Blumenauer will kick off the tour at 11:15 am at the garden of Diane Benson, 3926 NE 11th Ave. Call 503-232-6639, ext. 102, for information about the event.

More information on the killing of 50,000 bees in Wilsonville.

Top photo from the Xerces Society. Bumble bee photo by Motoya Nakamura for The Oregonian.

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