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Ortho is Changing Garden Products to Protect Honey Bees

By Chris Williams on May 3, 2016.

If you’re a gardener and you’re worried about protecting honey bees on your property, the yard and garden giant Ortho just made it a little easier for you. Bowing to consumer concerns about the effects of neonicotinoid insecticides on honey bees, Ortho is removing these chemicals from its products, making changes in eight of their popular lawn and garden pest control products.

Colony Collapse Disorder Has Multiple Causes

For years there has been growing concern about the decline in the numbers of honey bees in the U.S. Experts have been searching for the cause of what has become known as Colony Collapse Disorder (see In the News – Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder). Several culprits have been named – from changes in weather, to colony transportation stress, to honey bee parasites and disease, to pesticides. The conclusion from a government study is that Colony Collapse Disorder seems to result from a combination of factors and may include the use of insecticides containing neonicotinoid, called neonics.

About 1/3 of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants and honey bees are responsible for about 80% of that pollination. Anytime pesticides are applied to or around flowering plants, there is a risk of killing foraging pollinators, including honey bees. Neonics seem to hit honey bees particularly hard. Pest control professionals know how to choose safe products and how to schedule spraying to protect bees, but consumers are not always so savvy in choosing and using pesticides.

New Products Will Be Safer for Honey Bees

While neonics have not been definitively shown to be responsible for honey bee decline, Ortho is making changes to three of its products for roses, flowers, trees, and shrubs by 2017 and five other products later by 2021. Ortho says that the change in the products’ active ingredient may mean that gardeners will have to apply the product more often, but the risk of hurting bees will be greatly reduced. The price of the reformulated products is not expected to change significantly.

“While agencies in the U.S. are still evaluating the overall impact of neonics on pollinator populations, it’s time for Ortho to move on,” said Tim Martin, general manager of the Ortho Brand.

Photo Credit : By Sajjad Fazel |  CC BY-SA 3.0

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