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Bee experts say pesticides are killing their buzz

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Posted: May 6, 2014 10:40 PM by Brittany Weiss
Updated: May 7, 2014 7:15 AM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: Bee, Pollination, pollen, plants, pesticides, insecticides, killing, bees, insects

BATON ROUGE - Scientists say people are killing off bees and other pollinators by using pesticides improperly.

Milou Barry of Bocage Bee & Honey Co. says beekeepers have seen as much as a 20 percent drop in bee numbers since 2008. They've either disappeared or have not returned to the same areas to pollinate plants. It's called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and it's a mystery to beekeepers.

Experts chalk up the low numbers to a few things, including neonicotinoids, or neonics, one of the most used class of insecticide.

Barry says insecticides and pesticides have big impact on pollinators.

"If you take a large area that has beautiful gardens and every single house is spraying this stuff on the plants, in the yard, in the dirt, the bees are getting it," said Barry. "They're literally poisoning the ground."

Pollination happens when an insect or bird moves from plant to plant, usually to get food. When feeding, the animals rub against the plant and get pollen stuck to themselves. They then move to another plant, and some of the pollen can rub off.

Barry says when a bee comes in contact with chemicals, unnatural to the plant, the bees "get lost and don't come home."

"They get confused," she said. "They're on drugs of a very bad sort."

Johnny Naylor with Naylor's Hardware and Garden Center says before you buy pesticide, you should know why you need it and where it's going.

"You've got to know what you're using, when you're using and making sure you're controlling the right thing and that it is labeled for vegetable or plant," said Naylor.

It's not too difficult to recognize what you're buying. What's in the bottle, is usually printed on the front of the product in the list of active ingredients. This list usually has a chemical and common name. The common name, is the shorter of the two and is assigned to the pesticide.

He said the most common mistake people make is not reading the label and spraying plants at the wrong time of day.

"Waiting and spraying late in the evening after the flowers have closed and all the bees have gone home is the best time to spray," said Naylor.

Pyrethroid's, a chemical compound meant to be safer, has replaced older chemicals. Still, Naylor says it's important to read the label and know what you're spraying before you spray it.

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