Bee Health and Armstrong Garden Centers

Armstrong Garden Centers and Armstrong Growers (Armstrong’s growing division), are fully committed to practices that ensure honey bees are not harmed by the use of pesticides.

Armstrong’s Commitment to Bee Health
Armstrong Garden Centers and Armstrong Growers (Armstrong’s growing division), are committed to practices that ensure honey bees are not harmed by the use of pesticides. We never spray pesticides containing neonicotinoids, commonly referred to as “neonics.” Armstrong Growers drenches (applies a solution directly to the soil) with this class of pesticides when needed. This practice avoids the possibility that bees will come in contact with neonics. (Research has shown that extremely small amounts, if any, of the neonics move into flowers from a drench or granular application to soil. Drenching is the safest way to apply this class of pesticide.)

Secondly, Armstrong Garden Centers educates and encourages home gardeners to strictly follow guidelines when applying all pesticides. Most insecticides will affect bees if they are sprayed on them or if bees come in contact with residues on treated foliage or blooms. That’s why it’s so important to read and follow all pesticide label instructions. (See New EPA Rules below.)

 

The Importance of Bees
Never before has there been so much attention on the health of honey bees in the U.S. and particularly, California. And rightly so; tens of thousands of commercially transported hives of honey bees are responsible for pollinating fruits, nuts and vegetables that are essential for the feeding of people all over the world. They also ensure that we have the diversity of beautiful flowering plants we enjoy every day in our gardens.

It’s interesting to note that honey bees are not native to the U.S., and except for agricultural needs for large crops, native bees such as mason bees and bumblebees are sufficient to pollinate home garden crops and native agricultural crops. These native pollinators cannot be mass-utilized as easily or as effectively as honey bees, however.

 

Bee Colony Collapse Disorder
While sudden loss of bee colonies has been documented as far back as 1869, in 2006 and early 2007, losses reached dramatic new highs. “Colony collapse disorder” was the description coined to describe what was happening in the U.S. Most of Europe reported similar large losses of honey bees. The causes of bee die-off are still undetermined, with probable causes being pesticides; mites; malnutrition; pathogens; lack of genetic diversity; urbanization (loss of habitat); immunodeficiencies; beehive transportation; electromagnetic radiation; or a combination of several of these factors.

Today, the focus of research seems to indicate a combination of factors is the cause of bee die-off. Those primary factors being researched are neonicotinoid pesticides, Varroa mites carrying viruses, and the fungus Nosema. It is still possible that other factors are causal.

 

Largest Documented Bee Die-off
In June of 2013, the pesticide Safari, which contains neonicotinoids, was applied contrary to instructed use (sprayed directly on bees as they foraged on flowering linden trees around a mall) and was suspected of killing thousands of bees. This prompted the creation of legislation to ban neonics in the U.S., but the bill was never enacted.

 

New EPA Rules
In 2012, the EPA put in place new and strengthened rules for pesticide labeling of pesticides containing neonicotinoids. The image of a honey bee must be included on labels of pesticides with potential to harm them. The words “This product can kill bees and other insect pollinators” must also appear. It must state that these pesticides cannot be applied when plants and trees are in flower—all petals must have fallen. There are several other warnings, including the importance of avoiding drift.

 

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