Although they are small insects, bees play an enormous role in our ecosystem. These tiny pollinators make many of the foods we enjoy every day possible, however, in the past decade bee populations have declined by a shocking 30 percent each year. There has been much speculation about what caused this dramatic drop in bee numbers, but recent studies have named neonicotinoid pesticides as the major culprit.

These pesticides work by attacking the nervous system, which is incredibly effective for getting rid of unwanted insects, but unfortunately, they work the same on “pests” and bees alike. Neonicotinoids are believed to be at the root of Colony Collapse Disorder, so if we hope to see bee populations recover, we need to take action to eliminate the use of these pesticides.

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The European Union has already put an all-out ban on neonicotinoids in place and millions of Americans have taken action by signing petitions demanding that Lowe’s, Home Depot and other major retailers stop selling these harmful chemicals. While a ban on neonicotinoids has yet to happen in the U.S., it looks like positive change for bees is finally starting to happen!

A new report from Friends of the Earth, entitled “Growing Bee-Friendly Garden Plants: Profiles In Innovation,” found that greenhouses and nursery growers across the U.S. are taking proactive steps to make their businesses bee friendly by phasing out the use of bee-toxic pesticides.

All of the growers that Friends of the Earth interviewed reported dramatic cuts in their use of toxic pesticides, using creative natural methods to mitigate pest problems instead.

The report explains, “[A]lthough nursery and greenhouse use of these insecticides may not be comparable in quantity to agricultural use, it is highly targeted to plants that are grown intentionally for their flowers — plants that are attractive to pollinators. Hence, there are heightened concerns about neonicotinoids in nursery production.”

But this is not the only change that is happening, retailers are taking independent action to save bees by refusing to see products that contain neonicotinoids. Ace Hardware and True Value are a few of the big name stores that have ditched neonicotinoids and smaller home and garden stores across the U.S. are following suit.

While a full ban on neonicotinoids is needed in the U.S., this proactive action from retailers and growers alike shows that with a little bit of knowledge we can create amazing change.

To learn more about how you can help bees, check out this article. If we all play our part, we can ensure the survival of this critically important species!

Image source: Mibby/Flickr

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