Don't Miss Out

Subscribe to OCA's News & Alerts.

OCA's Save the Bees Campaign

Maine Stores Urged to Drop Plant Pesticide That Kills Bees

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Honey Bee Health page and our Maine News page.

Plants from big-box stores in Maine that were tested in a national study contained neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides that has been linked to rising numbers of deaths of bees across the globe, an environmental advocacy group reported Wednesday.

Friends of the Earth said more than half of the garden plant samples - many marketed as bee-friendly and sold by large retailers in 18 cities, including Portland - contained neonicotinoid pesticides.

The widely used insecticides have come under scrutiny in recent years, particularly in connection with colony collapse disorder and rising mortality of bees and other pollinators, said Katherine Paul of the Organic Consumers Association, one of more than 20 environmental and public interest organizations that joined in the study with Friends of the Earth.

Of the four plant samples purchased in Portland, three contained neonicotinoid pesticides, also known as neonics, Paul said. Forty percent of the positive samples collected nationwide contained two or more neonics, she said.

Some of the flowers tested contained levels high enough to kill bees outright, said Charlotte Warren, communications and media consultant for the Organic Consumers Association.

Environmentalists, beekeepers and organic growers gathered Wednesday at The Honey Exchange on Stevens Avenue in Portland and called on three major retail chains - Wal-Mart, Lowe's and Home Depot - to phase out neonicotinoid insecticides, or at least make sure they are clearly labeled so that consumers can choose alternative pest control measures for home gardens.