Letter: Where are the bees?

There's a public hearing at Madison Middle School Saturday morning — and Trumbull residents need to speak up, according to one letter writer.
There's a public hearing at Madison Middle School Saturday morning — and Trumbull residents need to speak up, according to one letter writer.

To the Editor:

Last month Connecticut became the first state in the nation to unanimously pass   An Act Concerning Pollinator Health which, among other things, restricts the use of broad-spectrum pesticides called neonicotinoids (neonics).

Maryland followed quickly on Connecticut’s heels, passing a similar bill that restricts their sale and bans their use by consumers. Across the nation, bee populations are declining at a precipitous rate, leading concerned citizens to call for a limit or ban on the use of neonics, a type of widely used pesticide that is absorbed into plant tissues. Neonics are one factor contributing to the alarming decline in pollinator numbers

Connecticut’s new law, drafted by Sen. Clark Chapin and Rep. Craig Miner was written in response to the loss of 60% of the state’s honeybees and a significant decline in a number of species of bumblebees in the state as well.

The Conservation Law Foundation praised Connecticut for it’s forward thinking legislation that provides multifaceted benefits to all pollinators by not only restricting the use of Neonics but also directing the DOT to plant native pollinator habitats along the recently deforested highways and parkways.

Private companies have also started to take action to become more pollinator friendly by clearly labeling plants treated with neonics and reducing their use. BJ’s Wholesale Club, Lowes, and Home Depot have all made commitments to pollinator health. They are requiring their vendors to stop using neonics or to clearly label products containing or treated with neonics. Most recently, Ortho, associated with Miracle-Gro, announced its decision to stop using the pesticide completely.

Now it is up to the local consumers to stop using these pesticides on our properties, typically used in backyards at higher doses than on agricultural lands. Check your sheds and garages for any products that contain the following chemical pesticides:  Acetamiprid, Clothaindidin, Dinotefurian, Imidacloprid, Thiamethoxam.  These sprays and granules, go by common names   like Ortho Insect Killer, Bayer Advanced All-in-One, Green Light, Knockout, and Amdro to name a few.   

Treatment of your neighbor’s yard can kill the bees in your yard.  Be a good neighbor and properly dispose of your own neonics and don’t buy new ones. In the majority of the cases the insecticides are used when there is no insect problem at all.  Unnecessary use of these products kills beneficial insects, which throws off the entire ecological balance of our landscape

This year, if you notice, the population of bees on our flowering plants and trees is shockingly low. I have a completely organic garden and I can count on one hand the number of pollinators I have seen so far this year. Many of my colleagues across the state are experiencing the same absence of bees in our gardens.  

By planting native pollinator habitats and halting the use of these broad-spectrum insecticides we can hopefully correct this unintended consequence created by overuse of a product that was designed to be safer for humans and wildlife. We all must understand the unnecessary use of broad-spectrum pesticides impacts numerous species in the web of life.   The lack of appropriate testing and regulation of these products prior to coming to market impacts every species and may take decades to correct, assuming the damage can be undone in our lifetime.  All we can do it stop using them and hope for the best.
Mary Ellen Lemay,
Chairwoman, Trumbull Conservation Commission