Preserving the Environment

This City Has Taken a Very Important Step in Protecting the Honeybee

March 21, 2014
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This City Has Taken a Very Important Step in Protecting the Honeybee
Don Hankins/Flickr
Insects might want to buzz on over to Eugene, Oregon.

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.

MORE: Help Save the Bumblebees With Nothing but Your Smartphone

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.

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