Save Our Pollinators!

— Written By Bill Hanlin and last updated by JoAnne Gryder

Along with the spring blooms we are seeing right now comes pollinators like honey bees, Honey-Bee2bumble bees and mason bees. Pollinators are crucial in fruit and vegetable production so it is very important that we try to preserve as many as possible. One way to help preserve these beneficial insects is to wisely use pesticides.

Insecticides, in particular, can be very toxic to bees, but they are also important in reducing pest populations.  Here are some rules you should follow to avoid killing pollinators if you need to use an insecticide:

•Avoid spraying during bloom since that is when the bees are present. If an insecticide is needed during bloom, then wait until the bees are gone in the evening before spraying. Evening spraying will allow the insecticide to dry before the bees return in the morning.

•Try to use pesticides that are not as toxic to bees. Most insecticides are very toxic to bees, but there are some pesticides that are relatively non-toxic. Dipel, for example, just kills caterpillars and has no effective on pollinators.  The label should tell you if the pesticide is toxic to bees.

•Avoid using systemic insecticides on plants that are blooming. Systemic insecticides, like imidacloprid, are translocated throughout the plant and end up in flower nectar and pollen. If honey bees take the contaminated nectar and pollen back to the hive then the entire hive could be affected.

•Try to avoid pesticide drift on to other plants that bees may be visiting. Reducing drift can be accomplished by not spraying on windy days. Using certain pesticide formulations, like granular insecticides, can also minimize drift.

•Use insecticides only when you actually need them and avoid affecting your beneficial insects as much as possible.

Written By

Photo of Dr. Bill HanlinDr. Bill HanlinRetired County Extension Director (336) 651-7333 william_hanlin@ncsu.eduWilkes County, North Carolina
Posted on Apr 24, 2015
Was the information on this page helpful? Yes check No close
This page can also be accessed from: go.ncsu.edu/readext?353422