SOURCING POLLINATOR FRIENDLY PLANTS
WHAT ARE “NEONICS”?
Neonicotinoids, or “neonics”, are a class of neurotoxic systemic insecticides that can persist for many years in soil and plants. This means they act on the brain and nervous system and they are absorbed by the plant and distributed throughout its tissues. Neonics are extremely effective, easy to use, and less toxic to humans than some previously used pesticides. These qualities have made them the most widely used of all classes of insecticides.
Neonicotinoids are not only capable of killing bees outright by attacking their nervous systems, but low levels of exposure can impair foraging abilities and navigation; disrupt learning, communication and memory; reduce fecundity and queen production; and suppress the immune systems of bees, making them more vulnerable to disease and pests.
While there is some debate about the severity of neonics’ impact on bees under real field conditions, their toxicity to bees and the importance of bees to ecosystems and agriculture are uncontroversial.
Beekeepers have been losing an unsustainable portion of their colonies every year since 2006, and neonics are a strongly implicated culprit. Beekeepers can breed honey bees to restore their numbers, but native pollinators like bumblebees and butterflies have no such support.
BUYING A PESTICIDE?
Check the active ingredients. The following chemicals
are all neonics:
Imidacloprid, the neonicotinoid pictured above, is the most popular pesticide in the world.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Vote with your wallet! Request plants that have not been treated with neonicotinoids. The label “pollinator friendly” often only means “pollinator attractive”, and many so-labeled plants have tested positive for neonics.
- Specify plants that are not treated with neonics.
- Provide contractors with a pre-approved list of safe growers so it’s easy for them to find plants that meet your specifications.
- Use only organic fertilizers in your designs.
- Adopt an integrated pest management strategy in your maintenance methodology.
- Call nurseries to ask about pest management strategies before you buy from them.
- Don’t use neonics on your lawn or garden.
- Rethink your relationship with “weeds”. They grow so fast because they are well suited to the conditions in your garden and they provide diverse forage for pollinators.
Solar Farms + Pollinators
Pollinator populations are in steep decline due to environmental stressors including pesticides, parasites, disease and malnutrition, putting farmers and crop yields dependent on flowering plants at great risk. They provide an essential ecological service for more than 85% of the worlds flowering plants, which is inclusive of most global crop species. Solar companies including Cypress Creek Renewables and others are adopting Pollinator Initiatives where pollinator friendly seed mixes are planted in and around the project. The aim being to support and create thriving native pollinator habitats within communities where clean energy and ecological management work side by side.
How to help
1. Learn about bees! Read primary sources and analyze content for biases.
2. Start a garden! Use bee-safe plants and provide a source of fresh water. Urban habitats provide diverse forage and a haven from agricultural pesticides.
3. Eat organic! Create demand for produce grown without chemicals that harm bees.
4. Befriend a beekeeper! Buy honey from your local apiarist.
5. Advocate for bees! Talk to your friends and ask your representatives to support pollinator friendly legislation.
6. Talk to BASE! BASE can help you design and select appropriate plants for your pollinator habitat.