With Pollinator Week approaching June 16-23, the health of insect pollinators has been receiving lots of buzz and attention as to whether pesticides are impacting pollinator health. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is taking a proactive approach in favor of bee health by mandating new language on certain pesticide labels. Pesticides containing neonictinoid active ingredients will be the first to utilize this new label.
The survival of honey bee hives is a complex issue which has been studied heavily but not resolved. Honey bees have a positive image in society and are contributors to human food supplies through their honey production and pollination services. Foods like almonds, blueberries and apples rely upon bee pollination. Bees are also responsible for the pollination of 16 percent of flowering plants.
Throughout the past few winters, North American bee keepers have seen honey bee hive losses in the 35 percent range, compared to international averages of 10-15 percent. There are many theories as to why bees are not thriving, including parasites, nutritional issues, bacterial diseases, warmer weather, bee keeping practices, genetic weaknesses and pesticides.
In order to address the role pesticides might play in the problem, the EPA is mandating new language on certain pesticide labels. The section on the label containing the special information regarding bees will be accompanied by a picture of the bee to alert applicators of the precautions.
New labels will include:
Modified language. New labels will include the following language:
- Do not apply [insert name of product] while bees are foraging.
- Do not apply [insert name of product] to plants that are flowering. Only apply after all flower petals have fallen off.
A picture of the bee. In order visually alert users to the effect the pesticide may have on bees, the label will be accompanied by a picture of a bee to alert applicators of the precautions.The modified labels are commonly being referred to as the “bee advisory box” and represent a proactive approach from the EPA toward protecting these valuable pollinators.