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Is your flowerbed harming our bees?

Published: Friday, May 2, 2014 2:30 p.m. CDT

As you begin planning your flower beds and borders — and choosing just the right plants and colors — I want you to ask yourself these questions, “Is my flowerbed harming bees?” and “What about the lawn?”

No one wants to answer “yes,” but unwittingly many of us may be doing just that.

Much of our food production is dependent upon pollinators; the same pollinators that you see in your yard. Due to Colony Collapse Disorder, pesticide use and other contributing factors, our bee populations are in decline, but you can help our pollinators!

A newer class of insecticides, the neonicotinoids, are being used across the United States and Canada to control insect damage to crops of all types. These chemicals are highly valued for their effectiveness and toxicity to a wide range of pests. Studies, however, have found that the neonicotinoids are being found in bee-friendly plants. These chemicals remain in the plant long after their application and can contribute to the bees’ demise. Please be aware of these chemicals and consider avoiding their use.

Before using a pesticide, check the label and look for the active ingredient of clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam or acetamiprid. By eliminating the use of these pesticides, you can contribute to the health of the pollinator population.

When selecting annuals or perennials, ask your grower if they use these chemicals. Another option would be to purchase only organically grown plants. Better still, plant native flowers and grasses to create a native and diverse landscape that will help sustain our bees and butterflies. Native transplants usually bloom the very first year providing the color and beauty that you are looking for. Native bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are naturally drawn to native plants and one can feel assured of giving support to our bees and butterflies all season long with healthy pollen.

The Bureau County Soil and Water Conservation District is hosting a native plant sale from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 8 and 9 at the Bureau County SWCD, located in the USDA Building, at 312 E. Backbone Road in Princeton. Call us at 815-875-8732, ext. 3, or email BCSWCD@hotmail.com.

Support our bees and grow native for 2014!

Emily Gann is the administrative resource conservationist at the Bureau County Soil and Water Conservation District.

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