Your home garden at the bees’ peril

Flowers and ornamental plants are contaminated with bee-killing and illegal pesticides. Greenpeace bought samples from across Europe in gardening centres, supermarkets and DIY-stores, many samples showed contamination with a cocktail of pesticide residues. When planted outdoors, these plants may put bees and other pollinators at risk.04/10/2014 © Axel Kirchhof / Greenpeace

With spring comes home-gardening and lovingly tending to the outdoor flowers and plants you bought at the home hardware or ‘do-it-yourself’ store. Unfortunately, bees may not love your garden as much as you do. 

After an analysis of ornamental plants and flowers sold in Europe, we found that four out of five were contaminated with bee-killing pesticides. About half of the samples we tested in places like garden centers and supermarkets contained the bee-killing neonicotinoid-type of pesticides which are subject to an EU-wide temporary ban.

It shows that growers are either not complying with the regulation, or are exploiting loopholes in it.

Last week, we revealed that pesticides contaminate the pollen that bees bring back to their hives. This is hurting bees and other pollinating insects which are critical for our food production.

As long as producers use bee-killing pesticides to grow popular flowers like viola, bellflower and lavender, each of us — gardening and nature-loving consumers alike — are made an unwilling accomplice to the current bee-decline, and in contaminating the environment.

We urge retailers to eliminate all bee-harming pesticides from their entire supply chain. And, we demand that European policy-makers close the loopholes in the current ban on neonicotinoid pesticides.

If you want to protect bees, wildbees and other insects in your own backyard, go for ecologically produced ornamentals and don´t use chemicals in your garden.

Only a complete ban on bee-killing pesticides and a change towards ecological farming, in both agriculture and horticulture, will put things right.

Join us in saving the bees.

 

Matthias Wüthrich is an Ecological Farming campaigner and European bees project leader at Greenpeace Switzerland.

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