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Honey Bee in the Field – Courtesy of Rick’s Bees at http://www.ricksbees.com

I admit it: I missed National Pollinator Week on SSG!  Doh!  How could I do that?  Shame on me.

Fortunately, I have something to write about on the subject this week.   One of the local papers in St. Paul and Minneapolis is running a special report on our favorite pollinators, and it looks to be a good one.  This article was on the front page of the Sunday paper yesterday and certainly caught my attention. 

The special report covers some of the issues facing modern beekeepers including the use of seeds precoated in neonicotinoids, which are an EPA-approved inspecticide made from synthetic nicotine (a neurotoxin to insects).  From the Star Tribune article:

But it’s their delivery system that makes neonicotinoids truly novel.

As the chemical-coated seed germinates and matures, the insecticide moves into the circulatory system and grows with the plant. As a result, today all major crops — and even many of the geraniums and petunias at retail garden centers — are poisonous to insects, regardaress of whether they need to be protected. It’s a built-in insurance policy.

“Making plants themselves toxic is a whole different thing than killing bugs with a toxin,” Steve Ellis (Minnesota beekeeper) said. “It’s a game-changer.”

I am not a beekeeper, but I have had conversations with Rick from http://www.ricksbees.com.  I know he lost several colonies last year, and he ran his own Kickstarter campaign to rebuild his colonies and expand his operation.  I went with Rick on an adventure to Wisconsin to pick up some of his new bees (that were fresh from the almond plantations in California) back in early May and wrote about it here.  His latest story about his operation is here, and I do need to check in with Rick about how it is going this year so far.

Check out the Star Tribune article, and support your local beekeepers.  They are doing an invaluable service for our environment and our plants. 

At the same time, I will be continuing to educate myself on what we are doing to our pollinator friends and environment.  If these toxins are killing the bees, what are they doing to us?

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