6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
HvlSxHY-show-poster2x3-4ik43uV.png

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

What You Can Do About Bee-Killing Neonicotinoids

Support Provided By
Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/oddwick/">Todd Huffman</a>/Flickr/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">Creative Commons</a>
Photo by Todd Huffman/Flickr/Creative Commons

See our California Matters with Mark Bittman segment on native pollinators here.

You've probably seen the petitions make their rounds on Facebook and other social media. Nearly every site from SumOfUs to MoveOn has urged fellow bee lovers, gardeners, farmers, and eco-minded supporters to demand the ban of neonicotinoids (or "neonics"), a systemic synthetic pesticide that's been linked in several studies to the recent mass die-off of bees.

Manufactured by Bayer CropScience and Syngenta, neonics are routinely used on plants at the nursery as well as at the growers' warehouse. The pesticide is a neurotoxin, absorbed by the plant's vascular system and expressed in the pollen and nectar. Bees that visit contaminated plants aren't instantly killed, which has made it difficult to pinpoint the cause of their severe decline. Instead, their nervous systems are slowly attacked, inhibiting their ability to forage for nectar, learn and remember where flowers are located, and find their way back to their hives, consequences that when multiplied across all bees, lead to colony collapse disorder.

Adding insult to injury, it's been found that many "bee friendly" plants (and even pollen-containing vegetable starts, such as tomatoes) at Home Depot, Lowe's, and Orchard Supply Hardware locations across the country tested positive for neonics.

The petitions that have been going around for the last year typically target the boxes, pressuring Home Depot and its competitor, Lowe's, to stop carrying neonicotinoid-treated plants. While a change by these two massive retailers would have serious impact on growing industry practices, we shouldn't hold our breath.

Change happens more quickly on the local level — which is why you can make a difference in your community and support an independent garden center at the same time.

Demand that your local independent garden center (IGC) stop carrying neonics
There are countless other nurseries besides the ones at the major chains. Ask the owner or manager if they sell neonicotinoid-containing pesticides or plants treated with neonicotinoids. If they do, point them to the numerous articles available online linking neonics to bee decline, and demand that they cease buying those plants from their wholesale growers. If enough IGCs pledge to stop buying from their regional growers, the change could happen right at the root of the problem — at the very warehouses where the plants are raised.

Rally your Representative to support the Saving America's Pollinators Act
Last year, Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced H.R. 2692, otherwise known as the Saving America's Pollinators Act. The legislation calls for the suspension of neonics until a full review of scientific evidence and a field study demonstrates no harmful impacts to pollinators. (This follows the two-year suspension of neonics in the European Union that took effect on December 1, 2013.) The legislation has stalled on Capitol Hill; while it hasn't been killed off, it also hasn't advanced any further than the House. Join the Facebook page for updates and tell your local Representative to support this important bill!

Start pollinator-friendly plants from seed
Instead of buying flowers, herbs, and vegetable starts from a nursery, look into the California seed companies that offer thousands of varieties of beautiful plants for your garden. Many of them are sourced from sustainable small farmers or certified organic, so you'll rest assured knowing your efforts in saving the bees won't inadvertently harm them in the process.

Support Provided By
Read More
Paul Grimm stands on the side of his painting of Harry Bennett and his horse Sonny.

In the Desert, Henry Ford's Strongman Finds His Artist's Heart

From stopping union uprisings for Henry Ford to a desert landscape painter, Harry Bennett wasn’t just a militaristic figure in corporate America but also, strangely, a skilled artist.
The view at the Slot Canyon Overlook.

Six Easy, Lesser-Known Excursions at Anza-Borrego

There's more to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park than the wildflower blooms. Avoid the crowds and explore six of Anza-Borrego's lesser-known gems.
A black and white postcard photo of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union Home in Eagle Rock probably taken a few years after the home opened in 1928. The four-story main building is in the shape of a Maltese cross with Churrigueresque ornamentation over the main door, an the elevator in the center and four wings reaching out.

A Haven for Early Feminists: Eagle Rock's Home of Woman's Christian Temperance Union

Founded by middle-and-upper-class women to push for abstinence and prohibition laws, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union at Eagle Rock became a major force for societal change and a hub for feminist activity in Los Angeles.