Neonics or ‘neonicotinoids’ are a nicotine based pesticide, and if you haven’t heard of them then it’s worth taking a few minutes to learn about what they are, and crucially how they’re having a devastating effect on bee colonies in the developed world.
Bee populations were already in trouble before the introduction of this nasty substance, indeed since the early 1960s bee populations have been in steady decline, and today more and more beekeepers report that their colonies are slowly dying, in part because of the use of neonics.
Why are Neonics a Problem?
From our point of view as gardeners bees are an absolutely vital part of the garden ecosystem. Without bees plants cannot be pollinated, and a garden cannot hope to thrive. Indeed without bees it’s predicted that 75% of the worlds crops would suffer from at least some decrease in productivity, so you can see the important role bees play cannot be overstated enough.
neonics are a widely used pesticide, used for everything from treating soils, to plants and grasses. As effective as they are for this application neonics are toxic to bees and have a negative impact on all aspects of their behavior, from their breeding to their ability to forage effectively. Bees absorb neonics from their contact with plants that have not only been effected directly, but also through their uptake of effected water in the soil, or even stray particles in the air.
Many commercially available pesticides that are marketed as being ‘Bee friendly’ are actually anything but, thanks to the presence of neonics in the ingredients. So our advice would be to always carefully check the label before you buy, the last thing you want is for something you buy to improve your garden to actually be detrimental.
Check out the infographic below for a more visual explanation of the effects of neonics on bees: