Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Controversial Pesticides

EU Voted for a Two-Year Ban on Pesticides Thought to be Harmful to Bees 
A bee collects pollen from a sunflower in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

British newspaper the Guardian reported this past Monday that the EU is banning pesticides that are thought harmful to bees. One day later, the New York Times, Huffington Post, BBC, NPR and many, many others are all a buzz with the news. “I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over €22 billion annually to Europeanagriculture, are protected,” said Tonio Borg from the European Commission in Brussels.  

The pesticides in question are called neonicotinoid pesticides. This nicotine-like chemical is extremely toxic to insects. It dissolves in water, which means it can be taken up by the roots (or even applied to the seed) making the entire plant, even the pollen toxic. Worldwide sales of the pesticides total in the billions of dollars. Bayer CropScience and Syngenta are the two companies that are making the product in Europe. Both companies point to colony collapse disorder, mites and viruses, environmental changes and poor nutrition for the decline in bee populations. And, certainly these things must be contributing to the problem.
Americans are watching the proceedings and research closely because the pesticide is in wide use here in the U.S. In another New York Times article it has been reported by beekeepers that 40-50% of bees have died off in the past year. Beekeepers and environmentalists are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its approval of the products, which they claim were allowed on the market with inadequate review.
Bees need you now more than ever. Please take them to heart when you do your spring shopping. Every plant counts! With thanks to Mid-Atlantic Gardening, I’d like to share this list of bee favorites.
Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’
The super dark purple blossoms make a great cut flower besides being bee caviar. Cutting back the spent flowers will encourage a second bloom for you and your bees. 

Monarda didyma
The bees will love it and so will you. Use it to decorate summer salads and add color to homemade herb butters.

Annual sunflowers are easy to grow from seed. It’s a fun way to introduce your children to gardening and the outdoors. 

Hollies  (Ilex)
Butterfly Bushes (Buddleia davidii)
Salvia of all sorts (Salvia greggii, Salvia nemerosa)
Catmint (Nepeta cultivars like ‘Dropmore’, ‘Six Hills Giant’)
Sedum (especially fall bloomers like ‘Autumn Joy’ and ‘Matrona’)
Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum)
Veronica (cultivars like ‘Sunny Border Blue’)
False Aster (Boltonia asteroids)
Beebalm (Monarda didyma and its cultivars)
Anise Hyssop (Agastache)
Sunflower  (annual or perennial)
Lavender (Lavandula)
Goldenrod (Solidago)
Bringing Life to your Garden!
Have fun out there, Peggy Anne

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