By now you probably know that honeybees aren’t just pesks that you should swat away. Besides making delicious honey, bees are responsible for pollinating a big portion of foods that we like to put in our mouths, from apples to zucchinis.
We’ve mentioned before that honeybees pollinate approximately $15 billion worth of produce in the country each year — or about a quarter of the food we consume. But to the horror of beekeepers from coast to coast, honeybees have been disappearing in startling rates. The long-suspected culprit? Scientists have linked bee colony collapse disorder to a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, a product that’s chemically similar to nicotine.
Now, in a first for the country, the city of Eugene, Oregon has taken a major step in protecting not just the honeybee but other insects as well, including bumblebees, butterflies and moths, after passing a resolution that bans products containing this highly suspected insect-killer on city properties such as parks and schools.
You might think that farms and other rural areas are the only places experiencing bee die-off, but it’s definitely a problem in cities as well. According to TakePart, after trees at a Target in Wilsonville, Oregon were sprayed with neonicotinoid dinotefuran to control aphids, a heartbreaking 25,000 bees (later upped to 50,000) were found dead. Although this may be an isolated report, it seems like a good enough reason to take this specific pesticide away as far as possible.
Encouragingly, the Oregon city might not be the only bee-friendly community. Paul Towers of the Pesticide Action Network told TakePart that other cities like Minneapolis, Berkeley, El Cerrito and Santa Barbara might follow in Eugene’s footsteps. Now that’s bee-ing a part of change.