Pollinators are Vitally Important to Oregon
Pollinators are essential for Oregon’s vibrant agricultural sector, supporting over $600 million of insect-pollinated crops grown by Oregon farmers each year. Their crops include small fruits such as blueberries, marionberries, loganberries, and black raspberries; tree fruits such as apples, pears, and cherries; as well as watermelon and seed for crimson clover, red clover, and alfalfa. All of this farm production depends heavily on the pollination services of both European honey bees and native pollinators such as bumble bees. These bees also ensure that Oregon home gardeners can produce fruit, vegetables, and flowers.
Furthermore, pollinators play a central role in maintaining a healthy environment. Pollinators help 85% of plants to reproduce and they are responsible for the abundant nuts, seeds, and fruit that feed wildlife, from birds to bears.
Bee Kills Demonstrate the Need to Take Action
In Oregon, at least half a dozen neonicotinoid insecticide applications in the summers of 2013 and 2014 caused the death of nearly a 100,000 bumble bees representing hundreds of colonies. Poisoning incidents occurred in Beaverton, Eugene, Wilsonville and other cities. High-profile investigations by the Oregon Department of Agriculture implicated dinotefuran in two of the kills and a closely related pesticide, imidacloprid, in the others. These insecticides, along with clothianidin and thiamethoxam, are neonicotinoids, the most widely used group of insecticides in the world. They are highly toxic to honey bees, as well as many native pollinators, including bumble bees.
Compounding the risk, these four neonicotinoid insecticides are particularly long lasting. They can persist in plants up to six years after a single application, and have been found in soil up to two years after an application. They are also proving to be highly bio-persistent in water. This means they can continue to harm bees and other beneficial insects such as butterflies long after their initial use.
Learn more about the risks from neonicotiniod use and how to protect pollinators in your own garden:
- Recommended resources
- Background: The threat to bees
- Read about bee-friendly gardens
- Learn more about neonicotinoid pesticides
- Read about the economics of saving bees: Bees by the numbers
- Contact us