Neonicotinoids are insecticides that distribute systemically through many stages of plant development. They can be effective against targeted pests, but may also adversely impact many non-target insects and animals such as bees, birds, butterflies, bats, lacewings, ladybugs, and worms. Neonics weaken the bees’ immune systems at smaller doses, which makes them more susceptible to parasites and disease. Studies have shown other adverse effects associated with neonicotinoids, including delays in larval development, decreases in queen survival and negative effects on feeding, and abnormalities in navigational and reproductive behaviors.
Neonics are found in products manufactured by Bayer CropScience, Syngenta and other chemical corporations. Their introduction into the environment is often unintentional and/or inadvertent, since labeling is not required for treated nursery materials.
Colony Collapse Disorder
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is the phenomenon that occurs when many worker bees in a colony desert the queen and disappear. Without worker bees, the hive cannot sustain itself and eventually it will be lost.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, scientists have identified the following factors as possible causes of CCD:
- Increased losses due to the invasive varroa mite (a pest of honey bees).
- New or emerging diseases such as Israeli Acute Paralysis virus and the gut parasite Nosema.
- Pesticide poisoning through exposure to pesticides applied to crops or for in-hive insect or mite control.
- Stress bees experience due to management practices such as transportation to multiple locations across the country for providing pollination services.
- Changes to the habitat where bees forage.
- Inadequate forage/poor nutrition.
- Potential immune-suppressing stress on bees caused by one or a combination of factors identified above.
The growth of fruits, vegetables, flowering plants, and many nuts are controlled by pollinators, this happens when pollen is transported from one flower to another to produce seeds. All bees are adapted for feeding on nectar and pollen. Plants also have benefits from butterflies, beetles, bats, moths, and wasps. To attract pollinators most flowers produce fragrant nectar that pollinators feed on. The shapes and bright colors of the plants serve as guides to where the nectar is located. While drinking the nectar the pollinator rubs its body against the stamen, allowing pollen to attach to the pollinator to be transported to another flower’s stigma and produce seeds.
Pollinators are responsible for every one in every three bites of food you eat. This makes up to $20 to $30 billion of agricultural crops annually in the United States.
Pollinated crops provide the world’s fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and edible oils. According to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (also known as IPBES), 75% of worldwide food crops depend on pollinators, as do 90% of wild flowering plants. They estimate annual global food production from the world’s pollinators as between $235 billion and $577 billion.
IPBES recently completed a two-year study in order to assess pollinators on a global basis, this study concluded that:
“[The world’s invertebrate and vertebrate pollinators] are being driven toward extinction by diverse pressures, any of them human-made, threatening millions of livelihoods and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of food supplies.”
The study found that bees and butterflies are at a high risk of extinction, along with many other pollinators in decline. The trends toward increased extinction and great declines are based mostly in Northern America and northwestern Europe. The number of invertebrate pollinators going extinct is higher than 40 percent in the same areas, the island environments have a 30 percent vertebrate decrease, and the world has a 16 percent decline. IPBES found that there are many causes of this decline, the most noted source being Neonicotinoids, which target and threaten pollinators worldwide. Pollinators are also threatened by the decline of traditional farming methods, indigenous agriculture, maintenance of diverse landscapes, and home gardens.
Around the world, people are working hard to help keep our pollinators in check. There are many ways to help but the easiest, fastest way is to create a pollinator haven in your garden, yard, or even windowsill. Planting pollinator friendly plants such as Lavender, Daisies, Oregano, and many more.
Pollinators need to hydrate as well, creating a “bee waterer” is the best way to help out our pollinators. Creating a “bee waterer” is very simple, take a bowl or deep plate and fill it with marbles, or pebbles, and then add water. The marbles and pebbles will make it so that the pollinators have a surface to land on, minimizing their chances of falling into the water and drowning.
One of the pollinators that we love to have around is the bee! Lucky for us, bees are not only the masters of pollination, but they have also given us the gift of honey. Honey is a product made from the sweet nectar that bees collect from flowers. Once the nectar has been collected, it mixes with an enzyme in the bees mouth and worker bees fly it back to their colony where it is then placed into cells made of wax. The nectar then sits in the cells for a long period of time and, since it still has a high water content, the bees “fan their wings” in order to help evaporate the water.
Mendocino County, located in Northern California, is known for its Californian Coastline and Coast Redwoods, also known as Sequoia Sempervirens. Two of the major attractions in Mendocino County are Vineyards and State Parks. Here in Mendocino County we have a very diverse community full of colorful characters who care about the roll they play in our society. We have a farmers market in every town and organic stores that our visitors and locals enjoy immensely. Mendocino County is the type of county that you fall in love with. You fall in love with the people, the characteristic of the landscapes, and the feeling you get when you remember yourself being here.
The amount of nature that Mendocino County supplies makes it a great county for pollinators. With the help of those who support us we hope to start many bee havens here, we also hope to guide our local wineries and nurseries in the direction of using non-neonicotinoid pesticides. Creating bee havens and banning neonicotinoids will help to create a more sustainable environment that will hopefully keep bees around for many more years to come. Having pollinators around will also help to keep our local environment clean and beautiful for the memories our visitors hope to make here.