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As Pesticide Worries Grow, 'Bee Safe' Plants Generate a Buzz

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Gardeners shopping for plants this spring at Bachman's nurseries will find some new signs in the soil. The company will begin telling customers which of its plants are safe for bees.

Bachman's is growing plants now at its Lakeville production center that are free of neonicotinoid insecticide, a widely used treatment that experts partly blame for the die-off of bee populations in Minnesota and across the country in recent years.

As researchers and lawmakers look for policies to protect and restore bee populations, Bachman's and other nurseries are taking up the cause one plant at a time.

"What we're looking at in our own production is to suspend the use of neonicotinoids on the plants that would be available to pollinators," said Dale Bachman, the nursery giant's chief executive. He called it a precautionary move.

Applied to seed or soil, neonicotinoid insecticides become part of the plant and kill pests that attack the plant. That's attractive for growers because it reduces pesticide applications. But the insecticide also gets into the pollen and nectar of flowering plants and can injure or kill bees.    
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