Score One for Pollinators

Geranium jolly bee
Image source: kfjmiller via morguefile

Are you following the news about the collapse of bee colonies? If so, you probably know that neonicotinoid insecticides (dinotefuran, imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam) were linked in a recent Harvard study to bee deaths.

This spring our town, Eugene, Oregon, passed a ban on neonicotinoids, the first community in the country to do so.

Image Source: Eugene Cascades and Coast

In Oregon we had our share of bee wipeouts last summer, including one in June, when an estimated 50,000 bumblebees were killed after a licensed pesticide applicator violated the label and sprayed blooming linden trees with the neonicotinoid dinotefuran (brand name Safari). The intended victims were aphids, and the site was a Target parking lot. Within weeks, another massive bee die-off was reported in Hillsboro, where trees had been sprayed with the same pesticide.

Other states and communities are trying to pass laws restricting neonicotinoids, which is good, because not much is happening at the national level. The EPA is studying the issue, and their study is not scheduled to be completed until 2018.

If you’re following the fight to protect pollinators, check out Saving America’s Pollinator Act, H.R 2692, introduced by Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D- OR). It would limit the use of neonicotinoids until a review of scientific evidence and a field study demonstrates no harmful impacts to pollinators.

Meanwhile, restrictions need to be put in place locally, town by town. Hopefully, Eugene is the first of many.

Photo source: playfuldragon via morguefile

Know any beekeepers, or have you kept bees yourself? What’s happening in your area regarding bees and other pollinators?


  • I put on latex gloves and pulled caterpillars off my currants this morning. Huge factor. Best guess is they are alien currant worms or sawflies, which would be related to honey bees, I understand. We don’t want to eat buggy currants, sacrificed the whole crop last year. Apparently neem oil is bad, too. Maybe a very small targeted spray with no wind?


  • We should be wary of the entire chemical industry – they know not what they are creating…. One solution creates a new problem, or another, and another. Good post – thanks!


    • You’re welcome. Odd, isn’t it, that this is often posed as a conservative vs. liberal issue, the safety of pesticides and insecticides. Doesn’t everybody recognize the importance of bees? I’m not opposed to chemical sprays as a whole, but agree with you: proceed with caution, especially when health is pitted against profits.


  • II’d read, a number of years ago, about the decrease in bee population (can’t recall reason) and honey became expensive and scarce. I have wondered what happened since. Sounds the problem has not been resolved or is this a new one?


    • Good question. There are a host of problems plaguing the bees. I was a little sorry to make this entry so short because it sounds like a cut-and-dry connection between this insecticide and colony collapse, when in fact many things are threats, including mass bee farming, mites, climate change. There is a lot of debate about number one causes. Neonicotinoids, however, are clearly culprits.


  • Gorgeous shots. I actually almost almost (yes, saying it twice) considered keeping bees, won over by a passionate DIY honeymonger. But then came to. LOL.


    • It’s a nice idea, but not for me, either. After a friend’s bees swarmed and terrified the neighbors, he had to move them far away and commute to care for them. A lot of work. Still, I love the bee keeper community, which is pretty active here. They have done a good job of raising the alarm on this issue.

      Me? I’ll stick to growing flowers. Thanks for the visit.


  • Yay! That’s great news Julia. As you recall, I blogged about this last year. It’s a huge problem. By the time the EPA studies come out, the bees could be dead. So I hope this is a trend girl. Thanks for letting us know. Yes, score one for the pollinators! *shakes pom-poms in mid-air* 🙂


  • Oh, yes! I was just reading an article that was also suggesting we not pick the good ‘ol dandelions. Many of us think of them as weeds and try to get rid of them ASAP, but the bees need them. Good for Eugene! 🙂


  • Oh dear. We just weeded about a gazillion dandelions. And for naught? How much time could have been saved for other things?!?


  • So lovely of you to come visit me! I found your blog via Karen McFarland, who wrote about the bees last year. I’m glad to see there’s some good news out there. It’s a scary world we’re living in.


  • Our new place in Boise had a giant beehive in the backside garage wall, with a knothole in the 1936 planking as their entryway. We had a beekeeper come to capture them, but that required tearing the walls apart and sucking them up with a giant vacuum. It was an exciting project. He estimated we captured about 20,000 of the little buzzers. We also cleaned out gallons and gallons of honey and beeswax, but he could tell that someone previously had tried to poison the hive, and so said the honey was unfit to eat. So sad! I did dip in my finger and eat a bit.

    Then midway through last summer a colony set up camp in a tree hole about 15′ above the driveway. They survived the winter and are busily doing their thing this spring. So it seems to me the bees are doing well here in Boise town.


  • Yay! Hurray for leaving the new hive alone, too. Several years ago, at our old house, when the kids were small, a hive of yellow jackets settled in. We could hear them buzzing through the wall by our bed. Occasionally one would find a way inside and sting one of us. We did not tear down the walls. We poisoned them. It’s hard to live up to your own ideals, especially when it comes to yellow jackets.

    I hope the Idahoian bees in your yard appreciate how lucky they are. I also hope your garage wall is better than ever. Cheers!


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