You might think bees are nothing more than a pesky, stinging insect. But, honeybees are extremely sweet little critters, completely unlike wasps and hornets. Unfortunately, because of our actions as humans and other natural causes, the honeybee population is in decline.
So why are honeybees so important? They are extremely important pollinators. Not just for flowers but for our food as well. Our food still gets pollinated the old-fashioned way, with insects and lots of honeybees. The decline of honeybees will result in a decrease in our food crops as well. In fact, a Cornell University study estimated that every third bite of food in America is pollinated by honeybees.
While we do not know all of the causes of the honeybee decline, there are a few things we can do to help. We can become mindful of the types of pesticides we use, even organic ones and grow plants that especially provide nectar and pollen for them to eat.
If you do need to use pesticides, follow these safe practices:
- It is not recommended to spray pesticides when plants are in full bloom. Bees are not attracted to plants in bud or after the petals have dropped. Even if you are spraying a plant that is not blooming but is next to a plant in full bloom, you might want to consider holding off until the other plant is no longer in bloom.
- Spray in the early morning hours or right before dark when bees are not active. The pesticide can then dry before the bees come into contact with them again.
- When dumping leftover chemicals, be sure to not contaminate any water that the bees may drink. This would include drips and puddles left by the chemical.
- Dusts are more hazardous to bees as well as newer micro-encapsulated formulations.
Pesticides that harm honeybees:
- Orthene (Acephate)
- Seven (Carbaryl)
- Diazinon (Spectracide, other)
- Bayer Systemic (Imidacloprid)
- Ambush, Pounce (Permethrin)
- Crossfire, Raid Flying Insect Killer (Resmethrin)
Safe only if sprayed at dawn or dusk, when bees are not active:
Allow product time to dry on plant.
- Neem Oil
Honey Bee Safe Products:
Apply when bees are not active.
- Sulfur (fungicide)
- Serenade (biological fungicide)
- Insecticidal soap
- Petroleum-based oils
- B.T. or Bacillus thuringiensis (biological control for caterpillars)
- Herbicides like Roundup and 2,4-D