There’s less buzzing in our world. About 40% less bees thanks to a variety of challenges. Parasites, loss of habitat and poor management practices play a role. But, exposure to pesticides is one that impacts both bees and other wildlife. One special group, neonicotinoids, is a special class of insecticides related to nicotine.
‘Neonics’ became popular because they’re soluble in water. This allows a soil application with uptake by plants, which in turn reduces drift. They’re a nerve agent effective on sap-feeding pests, beetles, white grubs, fleas, flies and roaches. And, bees. Both honey bees and the hundreds of species of native bees. But, not always directly. Recent research shows it can confuse bees to the point of starvation and colony decline. Bees forget how to find and remember flower location. They lose the ability to forage for nectar, and find their home hive.
Why does this matter? First, insects like bees and pollinators are part of our food chain. What affects insects eventually impacts other animals and man. And, second, bees help feed us because their pollination makes growing food possible. Roughly one of every three bites of food you eat depends on pollination. Even foods like coffee and chocolate.
Commercial beekeepers manage honey bees for both honey production and agricultural crop pollination. In fact, about half of all U.S. crops are possible thanks to 2.6 million colonies for hire. Coast-to-coast from almonds in February to blueberries in late summer. Bee transport takes colonies in 18-wheelers from farm to farm during peak flowering. Wild bees and other pollinators take care of the rest.
“Forrest Keeling is proud to say we’re ‘neonic free’ throughout our Nursery,” shared Kim Lovelace, nursery president. “It’s part of our vision to restore the earth’s ecosystems… clean air, pure water and renewed earth… one tree at a time. Sustainability and resilient landscapes are trends today. But they’ve been our way of life at Forrest Keeling since the Nursery’s founding in 1948.”
Homeowners and landscapers can do their part to reduce personal use of neonicotinoids. And, when you need to use one, use according to directions. This includes application in late in the day when most pollinators aren’t foraging.
Another tip? Plant more native plants to provide the nectar and pollen needed by pollinators. “Forrest Keeling specializes in native plants. You could say, ‘native is our brand’ said Kim. “We have nearly 400 different native species in production.”
Learn more about Forrest Keeling at their website, ForrestKeeling.com. Or, preorder plants for your home or farm at https://bit.ly/ShopNatives.