Can a bee-friendly garden actually kill bees rather than help them? An article published last June on wired.com reported that gardeners may be accidentally poisoning bees when they purchase what they think are bee-friendly flowers at big box stores in the U.S. and Canada. Several named store brands in the article were found to be selling plants that had been treated to neonicotinoids, the highly toxic pesticide that’s been getting a lot of news lately, particularly as it relates to bee deaths.
Ontario is taking action to protect the health of pollinators, including birds, bees, and butterflies. Meanwhile, what can we do? Here are some ideas:
1. Try independent garden nurseries that specialize in locally grown plants and ask whether the plants you’re interested in have been treated with pesticides.
2. Look for organically grown plants or try your hand at growing plants from seed from organic suppliers.
3. Think ‘pretty good’ rather than ‘pretty perfect’. Use of pesticides in the gardening industry has a lot to do with our desire for unblemished plants. Once we start changing our definition of a beautiful garden, we start to become a little more tolerant of pests and, ultimately, pollinators will benefit from that change of view.