The EPA has introduced new pesticide labeling rules in order to protect bees and other pollinators. The new labels will prohibit use of some pesticides when bees are present.
Honeybees and other pollinators have been struggling for a long time. Pesticides used in agriculture often kill more than just the target insect pest. Colony Collapse Disorder, a syndrome in which worker bees abandon a colony and leave just the queen and a few nurse bees, is suspected to be partially caused by pesticide usage.
The new pesticide labels ask the user to take steps to “minimize exposure of the product to bees and other insect pollinators when they are foraging on pollinator attractive plants around the application site.” Bees might land on the crop that’s being sprayed or the spray might cover field borders or hedgerows that contain plants attractive to bees.
The labels also ask the user to “minimize drift of this product on to beehives or to off-site pollinator attractive habitat.” Drift occurs when the wind pushes pesticide onto vegetation that it wasn’t intended for. Users are expected to take wind conditions into account when using the pesticides.
There is also a reminder on the new label that pesticide on a beehive can kill bees. Beekeepers in many states have legal recourse against a pesticide user that allows pesticide to drift onto a beehive, whether the action is from negligence or accident. This notice reminds people to try not to poison wild bees as well.
The Nature Conservancy put together an infographic that highlights a few things landowners can do to help bees (full size infographic at the link).