Good news for bees

The Ortho Company, a major producer of products used to control garden pests and weeds, announced this week it will stop using neonicotinoids, a category of chemicals believed to be harmful to bees.

Good for Ortho! For several years, it has been apparent something is reducing bee populations.

Beekeepers have been dealing with the loss of their bee colonies for some time. Colony Collapse Disorder is the name given to the problem – when whole populations of bees die off for unexplained reasons. Bees may die off from viruses and parasitic infestation and other natural causes, but CCD has been puzzling. Some blame the neonicotinoid-laced pesticides farmers and gardeners spray on their plants.

That is a serious problem for humans – because bees pollinate one-fourth to one-third of the fruits, vegetables and other plants we eat.

Ortho’s decision should please those environmental groups that are calling for the ban of such chemicals, but Ortho’s move is going to take some time phase out the neonics – it won’t be completed until 2020.

In the meantime there are things people can to to encourage bees. We can stop using pesticides with neonicotinoids on our gardens. We can let some clover grow among the bluegrass in our lawns – bees do like clover. We can plant flowers and plants that attract and feed them. Many people are starting to do that to promote butterfly populations, why not bees as well?