Viewpoint: Why banning neonicotinoids is a well-meaning but misguided strategy to protect bees and other pollinators

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Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

Unfortunately there is quite a bit of dis-and misinformation about what harms bees. For instance, [Maine] lawmakers recently passed a bill to ban neonicotinoids — which are used to keep plant pests and insects at bay — on lawn, turf and other residential areas for fear that they destroy bee colonies. They may be well-intentioned but they are misinformed. According to both former and current state apiarists, insecticides such as neonicotinoids are not the cause of bee decline in the state. And in testimony and elsewhere they’ve laid out the main causes for bee population decline. 

The primary cause of bee decline in the state is the varroa mite. These mites feed off of immature and mature bees by attaching themselves to the bodies of bees, weakening them by sucking out the fat. It’s the varroa mite that destroys bee colonies, not neonicotinoids.   

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If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we must rely on sound scientific facts when making policy. Relying on scientific facts should guide all our policy-making at the federal, state, and municipal levels. Professional apiarists will tell you that restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids are not supported by evidence-based science.   

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