‘Bee-Friendly’ Gardens Are Finally Becoming Safe for Bees


Whether filled with neatly trimmed hedges and stately roses, towering cages brimming with tomato vines, or a hodgepodge of wildflowers, gardens bring character, beauty, and perhaps something good to eat to towns and cities. In recent years, gardens have come to be seen not only as an idyllic place for the humans who tend to them but as a sanctuary for bees and other pollinators.

With colony collapse disorder, disease, pesticides, and other threats to bees becoming both more acute and better understood by the public, bee-friendly gardens are increasingly viewed as part of conservation efforts. The problem is, some of the bee-friendly plants sold by big-box garden supply retailers have been treated with neonicotinoid pesticides—which some consider to be one of the chief threats to bee health.

Started in 2013, Friends of the Earth’s annual Gardeners Beware report revealed the routine use of neonics on more than half of flowers and other “bee-friendly” plants tested in ’13 and ’14. Now, according to the 2016 report, those numbers have dropped significantly: Just 23 percent of the tested plants had been treated with neonics. Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Research Institute tested plants purchased at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, True Value, and Walmart in 13 cities across the country.

Not only is the number of plants treated with neonics down, but retailers including Lowe’s and Home Depot have said that they will phase out the pesticides altogether. Many stores label plants that have been treated with neonics, which was not the case in 2013.

Read the entire article at takepart.com