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bees

Today is World Bee Day! Running through July, the second annual “BeSure!” campaign is promoting best management practices when using neonicotinoid products to protect honey bees and other pollinators critical to the food supply and ecosystem. This year, the campaign is seeking to reach not only growers and applicators, but also golf course, turf, and ornamental landscape managers.

In its first year, BeSure! focused its messaging on major crops in the Midwest that utilize neonicotinoid-treated seed, such as corn and soybeans. This year, the campaign is expanding to include neonicotinoid foliar sprays, soil drenches, and granule uses on fruits, nuts, vegetables, turf, trees, and ornamental plants that bees visit.

(It’s also extending outreach to include the citrus industry in California and Florida where neonicotinoids have been very effective in stopping invasive pests, such the Asian citrus psyllid that spreads the Huanglongbing (HLB) disease that is decimating Florida’s citrus industry and has cost the state more than 8,000 jobs and $4.5 billion in the last five years.)

“Neonicotinoids are widely used in agriculture and in a variety of landscape and nursery settings,” said Tom Smith, executive director of the National Pesticide Safety Education Center (NPSEC). “Regardless of the specific use and method of application, product label directions should always be followed and responsible stewardship practices used to protect pollinators, such as avoiding conditions where product drift may occur and avoiding making applications when pollinators [such as bees] are actively foraging.”

GrowingMatters.org/BeSure, an interactive website with up-to-date stewardship tips and information, explains how other neonic applications can be used responsibly, including the comprehensive Insect Pollinators and Pesticide Product Stewardship Guide (photo above.)

Numerous industry organizations have partnered with Growing Matters, a coalition of companies that is spearheading the BeSure! initiative. The campaign has been endorsed by the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), the National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association, the National Pesticide Safety Education Center (NPSEC), CropLife America and the Agricultural Retailers Association, among others.