Safe Bee Plants

Know Your Impact:

Honey Bees forage for nectar, pollen and tree resins within a 3 mile radius from their hive. Little is known about the range of the numerous native pollinators. Most of the city of Stillwater, MN fits within a 3 mile radius.  So everything any property manager does to their land affects our Stillwater Bees. Will your actions have a negative or positive affect? 

Plant Bee Safe Forage:

Blooming Trees provide the most nectar, pollen and resin per SF of your property and you can often plant more bee forage beneath the canopy. Bee Safe Forage is neonicotinoid free.  See our March 18 meeting blog entry to learn about neonicotinoids as well as some neonic info further down on this post.

Plant a Bee Friendly Lawn:

Here's a link for what is recommended for Minnesota lawns and how to do it. 

Growing Bee-Friendly Garden Plants

Friends of the Earth and put together this helpful publication for retailers, nursery and greenhouse growers and consumers.

Here's the Xerces Society Regional Plant Lists for Native Bees

Growers who do not use neonicotinoids on their plants:


Cedar Hill  Stillwater, MN mail order, also sells at Hedberg Nursery, 8400 60th Street N., Stillwater, MN 55082.

Faribault Growers (wholesale annuals).

Gardens of Eagan,  5680 290th St W, Northfield, MN 55057 507-645-2544

Glacial Ridge Growers, wholesale  Glenwood, MN - 320-634-0136 (866-518-1671)

Hampden Park Co-op 928 Raymond Ave, St. Paul, MN 55114 651-646-6686

Hostas Direct 

Ion Xchange, Iowa

Kinnickinnic Natives   All plants are grown from seed gathered by them.  They do not use any neonics.  

Landscape Alternatives, 25316 St. Croix Trail, Shafer, MN - 651-257-4460 

Minnesota Native Landscapes, 8740 77th St. NE, Otsego, MN 55362, 763-295-0010

Mother Earth Gardens, Corner of East 38th St and 42nd Ave South, Minneapolis 55406  612-724-2296

Natural Twin Cities Food Co-Ops
Hampden Park (St. Paul), Harvest Moon (Long Lake) Rivermarket (Stillwater), Mississippi Market Food Co-Ops (St. Paul), Seward Co-Op (Minneapolis), Lakewinds (Chanhassen & Minnetonka), Valley Natural Food (Burnsville), The Wedge (Minneapolis) 

Naturally Wild, or email for information:

Out Back Nursery15280 110th Street South, Hastings, MN 55033 651-438-2771 

Prairie Moon Nursery, 32115 Prairie Lane, Winona, MN 55987 866-417-8156

Prairie Restoration,  21120 ozark Court North, PO Box 95 Scandia, MN 55073 Locations also in Princeton, Northfield, Watertown, Northfield, Duluth 

Rivermarket Co-OpStillwater, MN  651-439-0366.  For a limited time in the spring, selling vegetable, annual, and herb plants.

Shady Acres Herb Farm, Chaska, MN 952-488-3391

Sunnyside Garden Center, France Avenue & 44th St. Minneapolis.  612-926-2654

Sunrise Native Plants
,  All plants are grown by them, and are not purchased from outside sources.  All plants are grown without neonicotinoids or neonic seeds.  Regular vendor at the Chisago City farmers market.  34292 Quinton Ave. Center City MN 55012, 651-257-4414.

Tangletown Gardens, 5353 Nicollet Ave So., Minneapolis 612-822-4769

The Vagary, Randolph, MN 507-263-5369

Growers who do not use neonicotinoids in or on their seeds:

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

BBB seeds

Fedco Seeds

High Mowing Organic Seeds

Johnny's Seeds

Minnesota Native Landscapes

Prairie Restorations

Seed Savers

Select Seeds

Read the label:

Pesticides have restrictions listed on the label and those restrictions are legal requirements. It is breaking the law to apply a pesticide contrary to the label restrictions. 

Apis mellifera is the latin name for honey bee:

If the label lists Apis mellifera they are talking about honey bees so pay attention.

Avoid using systemic pesticides: 

Avoid systemic pesticides completely.  These pesticides stay in the plant for months and woody plants for years, delivering small amounts of pesticides whenever pollinators forage for nectar, pollen and guttation drops (moisture expressed from plant cells) on these plants. It is possible the systemic pesticides are also expressed in the resins of treated plants, which honeybees collect to make propolis.   
By the way, systemic pesticides persist inside the tissues of commercial produce sold for human consumption and can not be washed off.  Systemic means spread through-out. The Myths of Safe Pesticides by Andre Leu is quite informative.

Tree-age (Emamectin benzoate) is a systemic insecticide used on Emerald Ash Trees for Emerald Ash Borer which affects anything feeding on the tree. Here's its toxicity report 

Neonicotinoids are a huge class of systemic pesticides harmful to bees. The bees (and beneficial insects) that feed on neonicotinoid treated plants are getting dosed along with the targeted insect pest. The amount the targeted pest gets is lethal. The amount the bees (and other pollinators who are feeding on the plant) gets is sub-lethal, meaning it doesn't kill a honey bee on contact but weakens them over time and due to the frequent and wide spread exposures can weaken the colony enough that the colony will not survive. 

Neonicotinoids have been found to affect reproduction, learning, and navigation of bees, all of which are crucial to the survival of social insects (bumblebees and honeybees).  Solitary bees that are much smaller than honeybees may very well get a lethal dose. The neonicotinoid family includes acetamipridclothianidinimidaclopridsulfoxaflornitenpyramnithiazinethiacloprid, dinotefuran and thiamethoxam. Others are likely being developed.

The Xerces Society has a great brochure listing brand names of some of these at: Neonics In Your Garden.pdf  Be aware that these brand names and product names change so its best to read the ingredient list. In addition here is some other past and present product names containing neonics:

Clothianidin: Poncho
Imidacloprid:  Admire, Advantage (flea & tick for dogs), Confidor, Goucho, Marathon, Merit, Premeir, Provado, Bayer Advanced, Rose Defense
Thiamethoxam:  Actara, Crusier, Platinum

Use caution with contact pesticides:

Do not apply any (contact) pesticide known to be harmful to bees when plants are blooming and therefore bees are foraging on them.  The best time to apply a contact pesticide is when plants are not blooming, or when the bees are back in their hive in the evening.  Most contact pesticides become harmless over a period of hours, so they are harmless by morning when the bees become active.  However certain weather conditions can cause them to stay lethal longer, so not applying them when plants are blooming is safer.  

Carbaryl (1-naphthyl methylcarbamate): Sevin
Sevin is a broad spectrum neuro-toxin insecticide, highly toxic to bees in both dust and liquid form. It also increases the toxicity of another common yard chemical, 2-4-D or Scotts Weed & Feed or Miracle Grow. 

Fibronil, a phenylpyrazole: Termidor, Ultrathor, Taurus, Regent, Goliath, Nexa, Chipco Choice, Adons

Fipronil is a broad-spectrum insecticide that disrupts the insect central nervous system. 

Avoid using fungicides where bees will forage:

We just learned this year that bees are 3 times more likely to die from Nosema if they were exposed to fungicides.  Previously, we though fungicides were not harmful to bees (again, because testing only required determining the amount of a lethal dose).  Our testing system does not assure that approved substances are safe for bees.  It only proves they don't kill them on contact over a certain dosage.  

How to Reduce Bee Poisonings from Pesticides 

This publication is for the Pacific Northwest but much applies to our area as well.

As with anything, checking multiple sources for the latest research is recommended. If you're still not sure about something's safety, don't use it. Thank you to Honey Bee Club Members for their assistance on this page. 


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