Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Are bee-killing pesticides hiding in your garden?

"Bee-friendly" plants may carry hidden dangers. Photo: Andrea_44
by Lynne Walter, Associate Director

I love gardens because they give us a chance to grow beautiful flowers, plants, fruits, and vegetables. Besides providing a relaxing oasis for me, the gardens I love also provide a haven for butterflies and bees.

Unfortunately, new research shows that bee-killing pesticides may be lurking in our gardens - without our knowledge!

Toxic Free NC participated in a recent study of garden plants marked as "bee-attractive" that are sold at top retailers.  We purchased several "bee-attractive" plants from Lowe's and Home Depot stores in Raleigh, NC, to be tested. Colleagues in 17 other cities across the U.S. and Canada did the same.

The report, Gardeners Beware 2014 from our colleagues at Friends of the Earth, shows there is a good chance bee-killing pesticides are lurking in our gardens and backyards.  The report reveals that more than half of the garden plants we tested contain neonic pesticides. Neonics are highly toxic to bees - they can kill bees outright, and also make them more vulnerable to diseases and other stressors.

And these "bee-attractive" plants carry no warning labels for us, the consumers.

So, what can we do?
  • Sign the Petition: Ask garden retailers to stop selling neonicotinoid-treated plants and products that contain neonicotinoids.  

  • Raise Your Voice Locally:  Let your local nursery know you will only purchase neonic-free plants and ask the nursery to communicate your request to their corporate headquarters and supplies who grow the plants they sell.  You can find a sample letter here for U.S. companies.  
  • Grow Bee-Safe: Avoid buying neonicotinoid-treated seeds and seedlings.  Purchase organic plant starts or grow your own plants from untreated seeds in organic potting soil for your home vegetable and flowers gardens.
  • Practice Bee-Safe Pest Control: Avoid using bee-toxic pesticides in your garden and use alternative methods of pest control, such as providing a habitat for beneficial insects that prey on garden pests.  You can find more information at Toxic Free NC's Organic Gardening resource pages.
  • Don't Buy Products that Contain Neonicotinoids: Read the label and avoid using off-the-shelf neonicotinoid pesticides in your garden.  Look for active ingredients like acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran.  You can see the appendix at the end of Gardeners Beware 2014 for a list of common products that contain neonicotinoids.
  • Do a Clean Sweep: Check if you have neonic pesticide products at home, and dispose of them as municipal hazardous waste or take them back to the store where you bought them.

Thank you for taking action to help protect these critical pollinators, and please spread the word!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Beekeepers & Activists Swarm Lowe’s Annual Shareholder Meeting in Charlotte


Brett Abrams : 516-841-1105 :

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA -- On Friday May 30th, outside of Lowe’s Annual Shareholder Meeting, members of, joined by beekeepers from around the country, and a giant inflatable bee, will draw attention to the corporation’s continued sale of neonicotinoids, commonly known as neonics, a type of pesticides that has been linked to the collapse of bee populations worldwide.

WHEN:  Friday, May 30th.  Protest and visuals start at 8:00am ET.  Press conference and remarks at 9:00am ET.  Lowe’s Shareholder Meeting starts at 10:00am ET.

WHERE:  10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy, at the intersection of John J. Delaney Dr. Charlotte, NC 28277

Beekeepers outside join Lowe’s shareholders inside asking the corporation to remove bee-killing neonic pesticides from its shelves, and to promote alternative products that are not toxic to bees. More than 730,000 people have signed onto a petition from, urging Lowe’s and Home Depot to stop selling the bee-killing pesticides.

“From all over the world, tens of thousands of everyday Lowe’s customers and shareholders are urging Lowe’s to think about the impact that these dangerous bee-killing pesticides have on our food supply chain and the company’s brand,”  said Paul Ferris, campaign director at  “It’s time for Lowe’s to remove bee-killing pesticides from its shelves and supply chain.”

"North Carolinians are deeply concerned about the threats facing our state insect, the honeybee," said Levy Schroeder, Executive Director at Toxic Free NC. "Faced with habitat destruction to climate change, bees don't need another challenge. Lowe's should be truly bee-friendly and take toxic pesticides off the shelves."

Neonicotinoids have been the focus of many recent studies, which have found repeatedly that even small amounts of the chemical have been found to have ‘sub-lethal’ and even deadly effects on wildlife. Earlier this year, the European Union issued a two year moratorium on the use of neonics.

For more information, or for interviews with or beekepers involved in Friday’s action, please contact Melissa Byrne at 609-364-4267 or Brett Abrams at 516-841-1105 or by email at