Here's some news to bee excited by: A major maker of home and garden products announced it will be phasing bee-harming chemicals out of its pest-control products, NPR reports. According to the AP, neonics damage insects' central nervous systems, either killing them outright or making them vulnerable to disease and predators. The chemicals were identified by a UN study in February as one of the causes of declining bee populations. That's why Ortho, a division of Miracle-Gro, announced its products will be neonics-free within five years. "While agencies in the US are still evaluating the overall impact of neonics on pollinator populations, it's time for Ortho to move on," NPR quotes Ortho general manager Tim Martin as saying. He's encouraging other companies to do the same, USA Today reports.
One-third of the food humans eat comes from plants pollinated by insects, and honeybees do about 80% of that pollinating. To protect bees, state legislatures are considering banning neonics for home use and Lowe's and Home Depot announced they would stop selling products that contain the chemicals last year. Still, farmers use far more products containing neonics—sprayed to protect crops like cotton and corn—than home gardeners. One Maryland politician says ending the home use of neonics is a start. "There are still profound problems (for bees), but this is a step toward removing one contributor to some of the problems," one bee expert tells the AP. The pesticide industry argues that neonics are safe for bees. (Read more bees stories.)