The sound of a buzzing bee may signal the threat of a sting, but it also means the important pollinators are doing their job as part of a balanced ecosystem.
Elizabeth Ouzts, communications director with Environment America, says not only do bees keep gardens beautiful, they pollinate almost 70 percent of the crops that provide the majority of the world’s food.
But she says bees are dying off at historic rates.
“Scientists are pointing to a complex web of factors that have lead to these massive declines but one clear culprit is a certain class of insecticides that share the same chemical properties as nicotine,” she explains.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced it will prohibit new uses of neonicotinoids, but Ouzts says the agency needs to go further and ban their use all together. Meanwhile, a White House task force on pollinator health is expected to soon release a draft proposal to address pollinator declines.
Ouzts says while government and corporations have a role to play, Illinoisans can also help by making their gardens bee-friendly.
“And that’s by including native wildflowers, flowering herbs and berries in their gardens and that’s a very local action that Illinoisans can take just in their backyard to help protect the honeybee,” she states.
Seattle, Minnesota and Oregon have all agreed to take some form of action against neonicotinoids, and Lowes recently announced it will phase out their use for sale and in garden plants.