We’ve thought for some time overspray and drift into rural buffer zones from insecticide treated crops affects insects, but now there is proof. A scientific study conducted in Brookings, South Dakota has concluded the strips of rural habitat being grown near cropland have unintentionally negatively affected honey bee health. Christina Mogren and Jonathan Lundgren recently published their findings indicating pollinator plantings near neonicotinoid-treated seed cropland result in an unintentional reduction in the benefits of planted pollinator habitats.
This is true even if there are organic farms interspersed within or adjacent to the herbicide-treated locations not only because of neonicotinoid dust overspray and drift, but also because of rainwater runoff and soil pathways. Although the contamination may not be strong enough to actually kill bees outright, it does weaken the viability of both the queen and the worker bees. The assumption is that this weakness may have led to the large winter kill-offs beekeepers have been complaining about, as well as reduced colony development.
Since the likelihood that crop farmers will not stop using neonicotinoid-treated seed, the conclusion is to look for ways to protect the habitats from insecticide exposure. How to do that is the big question. I’d like to read your suggestions.
See also Wildflowers planted to aid bees may be crippling them.
Thank you Christian Nelson for bringing this research to my attention.
Diane Olson Schmidt. LaceWing Gardening Services says
There should be at least 100 or more feet from conventional farms and organic farms, small towns, (200-300ft rec.). Really, neonics should be banned in seed and in spray.
Some rural residences and organic farms are resorting to using grow tunnels with filters to keep pesticides out. As far as farm border wildflower areas, about 200-300ft. surrounding the farming border and/or with some trees planted or some kind of barrier like an small earthen berm with trees planted might help or some kind of fencing, 6-8ft.ht. roll out might help reduce the insecticide exposure. I know these are not practical solutions, but the farmers who use the insecticides should also have to guard against drift and rain runoff in soil which drains into the lowest area.
One idea from the companies who clean up hazardous waste areas plant tree barriers like Quaking Aspens, Willows to help sop up the neonics in the soil and rainwater. They can be planted along the edges with wildflower meadows in-between.
Donna VanBuecken says
Good thoughts, Diane. Tongue in cheek, mimicking current political rhetoric, we could also build a wall to keep out the aliens (invasive species).