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Old 08-17-2013, 12:46 AM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Midwest
bumblebee Gardeners Beware: Bee-Toxic Pesticides Found in “Bee-Friendly” Plants Sold at Garden Centers

Gardeners Beware: Bee-Toxic Pesticides Found in “Bee-Friendly” Plants Sold at Garden Centers Nationwide

This report was written by Timothy Brown, PhD, Pesticide Research Institute; Susan Kegley, PhD, Pesticide Research Institute; and Lisa Archer, Friends of the Earth-US.
Bees and other pollinators are essential for the two-thirds of the food crops humans eat everyday. However, the health and productivity of honey bees, bumblebees, and other pollinators are in great peril, and populations are dwindling worldwide. Concerned citizens have responded by planting “bee-friendly” gardens to provide urban foraging grounds. Unfortunately, as our new study shows, many of the bee-attractive nursery plants sold at top retailers in the U.S. contain persistent, systemic neonicotinoid insecticides that have been shown to impair the health and survival of bees and other vulnerable pollinators.
Unfortunately, home gardeners have no idea they may actually be poisoning pollinators through their efforts to plant bee-friendly gardens.
This is the first investigation of neonicotinoid insecticide concentrations in “bee-friendly” nursery plants sold to consumers at garden centers in cities across America. The findings indicate that bee-friendly nursery plants sold at U.S. retailers may contain systemic pesticides at levels that are high enough to cause adverse effects on bees and other pollinators — with no warning to consumers.
The high percentage of contaminated plants and their neonicotinoid concentrations suggest that this problem is widespread, and that many home gardens have likely become a source of exposure for bees.
Although there are more acres of neonicotinoid- treated agricultural crops, nursery plants are treated at much higher application rates and represent a more potent source of exposure. A single corn plant grown from an imidacloprid-treated seed will have access to 1.34 milligrams (mg) of imidacloprid from the soil it is grown in. In contrast, the recommended label application rate for a perennial nursery plant in a three-gallon pot is 300 mg of imidacloprid, an amount that is 220 times more imidacloprid per plant.
In each location, pollinator friendly plants (flowers and vegetables) were purchased for neonicotinoid residue analysis. Only softstemmed (non-woody) flowering plants known to attract both pollinators and pest insects (aphids, etc.) were selected for this study. Popular vegetable plants attractive to pests and pollinators, such as tomato and summer squash starts, were also included.
"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.
When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."
Aldo Leopold

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Old 08-20-2013, 08:21 PM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Chicago Illinois USA

I keep trying to respond to this but stop each time in frustration. Have we not all suspected this before now. If you are not buying from an organic grower or a native plant group that starts from seed or even starting from seed gathered yourself ...
The business of horticulture does not see a sustainable profit in native plants grown organically. It takes special propagation knowledge for many native plants, sometimes many years to flower and the point of these native plants is to provide food for creatures. All the things the industry has spent years breeding and culling out of the plants they pick to sell. Hmmm...
Now some of us are buying native plants but not in numbers large enough to pressure real change in the industry. Someday? I'm not optimistic.
"Half Earth Quest" Edward O. Wilson

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Old 08-20-2013, 11:01 PM   #3
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Location: Wisconsin

I can't help but wonder how many well-intentioned people are creating butterfly and pollinator gardens with plants from regular nurseries and wind up actually hurting the very butterflies and other pollinators that they are trying to help.
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Old 08-21-2013, 12:15 AM   #4
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Michigan/detroit

It's kinda like a few years ago when we getting toxic toothpaste, dog food, dry wall and who knows what else. Maybe I never got in the habit of visiting the nursery when I was ready to plant.

My neighbor bought a flat of herbs or annuals and I just watched them die before my eyes.

By the time I'd get to the nursery sales everything looked pretty beat up, over or under watered and not worth re-planting.

Since I live in the North I'd rather spend a cold dark night ordering seeds from Prairie Moon or Cold Water Nursery Who if I get my order in on time comes at the correct planting time...It's nice having a nursery a few zip codes away.

Then you get your plants home and what happens to the dirty containers. Maybe you'll use them again but not likely and it takes a ton of energy to repellitize them.

Another minus which might not matter much is the fungicides the large growers use and I'd rather not have my beneficial fungus destroyed. After all I covered the soil with shredded leaves; Any Fungicide wouldn't discriminate between my natural fungi and nematodes that infest sick soil.

I heard mass production can degrade the quality of plants because you are spraying the fungicide, insecticide, or herbicide because tending each plant individually isn't cost effective.

Another plus of starting from seed is not having to run to the store and having to wait till the rain stops to get planting. Just carry some from the basement plant room and it's done.
Prairie Plants
First year they sleep
Second year they creep
Third year they leap; So plant some today
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Old 09-09-2013, 07:20 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Chapel Hill, NC

The only saving grace is that even systemic insecticides don't last forever, and after the initial year's damage is done at least the well meaning gardener will have pollinator friendly plants.

They really need to label these things. I had no idea that the plants I was buying could have systemic insecticides in them, although now that I think about it I am not surprised. Another reason to buy most of my plants from the botanical garden. Actually, at this point I am trying not to buy anymore plants, since my garden has slept, crept and is now leaping all over the place. Spreading your own seeds around is the best economy - guaranteed toxin free and no charge either.
There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, this is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar. - Lord Byron

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Old 04-23-2014, 01:41 PM   #6
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Worthy of another look now that a new gardening season has begun.
"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.
When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."
Aldo Leopold

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