Ontario Nature Blog

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What’s a gardener to do?

Bumble bee and honey bee on butterfly milkweed. Credit: Martin LaBar

Bumblebee and honey bee on butterfly milkweed. Credit: Martin LaBar

Much of the discussion around neonicotinoids focuses on agriculture, but the horticulture industry also uses these chemicals. In a 2014 Friends of the Earth study of flowers for sale at garden centres in Canada, more than 50 percent of the tested plants contained traces of at least one neonicotinoid. Most shocking was that many of these contaminated plants were labelled “bee-friendly”.

Don’t fret. It is possible to source neonicotinoid-free plants that are truly bee and pollinator-friendly. Here are some tips:

  • Ask organic-growing neighbours to share plants with you. Many gardeners divide their perennials every year or two and are happy to find new homes for their extra plants. Check out our Pollinator Pals poster for some of the most attractive plants for wild bees and butterflies.
monarchs and asters

Monarch butterflies on New England aster flowers.
Credit: Shutterstock

Want to help get neonicotinoids off the market and encourage organic and pollinator-friendly horticulture? Here is a list of actions you can take:

  • Ask your local big box stores and garden nurseries to source organically-grown and native plants? Then ask them again, and again. There’s some truth to the saying “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” After more than one million people requested that Lowe’s, North America’s second largest home improvement company, stop selling products containing neonicotinoids and bee-attracting plants contaminated with them, the company announced a phase-out to be completed by 2019. See page 27 of this report.
  • Forgo chemical pest control products, many of which contain neonicotinoids. Opt for organic or ecological methods of garden care. Your garden is a community of species living and working together. Take some time to observe and research the members of this community. Two excellent resources are Canadian Organic Growers and Master Gardeners of Ontario Inc.
  • Write to your local MPP in support of the province’s neonicotinoid restrictions and pollinator health plan, and encourage them to go farther. Comments on the official proposal are due May 7th.

Spring 2015 native plant sales

Saturday May 9: North American Native Plant Society sale, Markham Civic Centre

Sunday May 10: High Park sale, Toronto

Saturday May 16 and Sun May 17: Artisans at Work, 2071 Danforth Ave., Toronto

Sunday May 24: Christie Pits, Toronto (this event includes a bike swap and a community arts fest)

Saturday June 6: Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club sale, Fletcher’s Wildlife Garden, Ottawa

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7 Comments

  1. The next time you need a photo of a monarch, adult, egg or caterpillar, please ask me, and I’ll provide it for free. I have beautiful shots one or more adults on goldenrod, new england asters, milkweed, and others.

  2. I do agree with all of the ideas you have presented in your post. They’re very convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are very short for novices. Could you please extend them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

  3. This is stupid and ueselss. Colony Collapse Disorder only affects commercial hives that pollinate commercial crops using commercial pesticides. Wrong!CCD affects all bee colonies of Apis mellifera. The pesticides affect other pollinator species as well. Domestic colonies seldom gather pollen and nectar from their own immediate surroundings, leaving these for last resort. They will forage in next doors gardens and even in neighbouring fields. Hence why pesticides are a problem. The average bee will travel easily 5 miles for food and they will do this continually for the better part of 6-8 weeks which is virtually their entire life cycle. The first 2-3 weeks are spent in the hive administering to the brood and other tasks. Once out and about they travel continuously looking for food. In 6-8 weeks a lot of land is covered. So the comment above by Thomas is clearly based on incorrect advice.CCD can affect all colonies of Apis mellifera regardless of whether they are commercial or domestic. The impact is clearly greater with commercial colonies due to the sheer numbers. Most households that keep bees will have only a small number of hives, between 1 and 5 usually, whereas commercial outfits have many hundreds of colonies.

  4. Beautiful Blog and in a blog you were using photos that are excellent pictures and information on your blog also good.

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