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Protect pollinators with bee-friendly insecticides

Bee on a purple flower

Pollinators are essential to the health of our plants that provide food and habitat for us and other animals. They move pollen from the male part of the plant to the female part of another plant, allowing these plants to make seeds and reproduce. But pesticides can be fatal to bees and other pollinators.

 As you maintain your gardens and landscaping this year, think about protecting pollinators like bees, flies, wasps, moths, butterflies, birds and bats.

Neonicotinoids are a type of insecticide that is fatal to bees and other pollinators. If you have a problem with insects, try to remove them without using chemicals. Refer to the University of Minnesota Extension website for options or call the Master Gardener line at 612-301-7590 (English only) for free advice.

If you must use chemicals, use those without neonicotinoids that are safe for pollinators. Check the label for this information. Be sure to follow all instructions on the label while using the product.

Here are some additional tips:

  1. Some chemicals may be used safely around pollinators once they have dried. The best time to apply these chemicals is after dusk when bees and some other pollinators are sleeping, giving the chemical time to dry before they awake. If the product is still wet, it will be harmful to pollinators that land on it.
  2. Know your garden plants. If you have a plant that is vulnerable to pests and near plants that attract pollinators, treat the pest-prone plant carefully to avoid getting pesticide on other plants.
  3. Apply chemical pesticides when flowering plants are not in bloom. Pollinators only feed on blooming plants.
  4. Bring any leftover chemical(s) to a Ramsey County household hazardous waste collection site.


You can also provide more feeding options for pollinators by planting a variety of native plants that bloom throughout the growing season. Make sure to purchase your plants from nurseries or stores that do not use neonicotinoids during production. You can also provide a water source for bees and create nesting areas with sand or mulch or install a bee house.

To learn more, visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the University of Minnesota Bee Lab and the University of Minnesota Extension.


This article is featured in Green Ramsey, an environmental health newsletter from Ramsey County. 
Learn more about and subscribe to Green Ramsey.

Posted on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 - 6:00 a.m.