GardenDrumBumblebee deaths in Oregon linked to neonicotinoid spray

Bumblebee (Bombax sp) in Ohio on milkweed

An estimated 50,000 native bumblebees died in Wilsonville, Oregon last month after linden trees were sprayed with a neonicotinoid insecticide to deter aphids.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has issued a 6 month ban of all insecticides with the active ingredient dinotefuran.

A landscaper sprayed 55 linden trees in the parking lot of a Target store in mid June and locals then watched in alarm as thousands of dead bees began falling from the trees over the following few days. The trees were quickly netted to prevent bees from accessing the poisoned linden flowers. [Note – the landscaper did not follow the directions on the label which advise against spraying when bees are active]

A community gathering has since raised prayer flags as a memorial to the bees and to bring public attention to the use of home garden chemicals that are dangerous to foraging bees.

Two American Democrat Congressmen our now attempting to have a legislation passed to protect pollinating bees – the Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2013, which would require the national Environmental Protection Agency to ban chemicals implicated in honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder.

John Conyers (Democrat from Michegan) says it’s not just an environmental issue, but a food security issue, too. “One of every three bites of food we eat is from a crop pollinated by honey bees. These crops include apples, avocados, cranberries, cherries, broccoli, peaches, carrots, grapes, soybeans, sugar beets and onions”.

The proposed legislation calls for a 2-year suspension of imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamexthoxam, and dinotafuran. Neonicotinoid insecticides, which are often coated onto genetically engineered corn seeds, have been found to travel through the plant and end up in the pollen where they can come into contact with foraging bees, even if the plant has not been sprayed. Research has linked bee contact with this group of neonicotinoids with Colony Collapse Disorder (the sudden and unexplained absence of bees) although it is likely that other factors also play a part.

The European Union brought in a similar ban earlier this year.

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