Neonicotinoids, Bee Health and Armstrong Growers

Armstrong's Commitment to Bee Health

Armstrong Growers is committed to practices that ensure honey bees are not harmed by the use of pesticides. We never spray pesticides containing neonicotinoids, commonly referred to as "neonics." Armstrong Growers drenches (applies a solution directly to the soil) with this class of pesticides when needed. This practice avoids the possibility that bees will come in contact with neonics. (Research has shown that extremely small amounts, if any, of the neonics move into flowers from a drench or granular application to soil. Drenching is the safest way to apply this class of pesticide.)

Secondly, Armstrong only uses this class of pesticides on as-needed basis. It is impossible to say what plants are treated due to the way we manage our crops. We only apply if there is an urgent need. In most cases we do not need to apply. Most all insecticides will affect bees if they are sprayed on them or if bees come in contact with residues on treated foliage or blooms. That's why it's so important to read and follow all pesticide label instructions. (See New EPA Rules below.)

New EPA Rules

In 2012, the EPA put in place new and strengthened rules for pesticide labeling of pesticides containing neonicotinoids. The image of a honey bee must be included on labels of pesticides with potential to harm them. The words "This product can kill bees and other insect pollinators" must also appear. It must state that these pesticides cannot be applied when plants and trees are in flower—all petals must have fallen. There are several other warnings, including the importance of avoiding drift.

Armstrong Growers has eliminated all foliar treatments made with the three named neonicotinoid insecticides - Dinotefuran, Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxam - from our container and bedding plant fields.

Foliar applications of any insecticides are now known to be the most harmful to bees, and as a result we have strict controls on this practice. Research has shown that neonicotinoids represent a tremendous advancement over older pesticide treatment options. When used properly, neonicotinoids effectively control problem insects, while exhibiting less impact on non-target insects (including bees). Their ability to provide residual control means fewer applications and less applicant exposure. Other alternatives are more harmful to the environment, and beneficial insects do not provide the same level of control, require repeated applications, leave pesticide residuals on the foliage, impacting the aesthetic value of the plant material, and may also cause more plant phytotoxcicity.

We at Armstrong acknowledge our stewardship role in using these chemistries; we deploy them as part of a management strategy like Integrated Pest Management or Best Management Practices and always use them only as directed by the EPA-approved label.

This is an ongoing discussion between governmental agencies, researchers, developers and growers, and Armstrong Growers is committed to working with our industry partners to find a positive resolution. We focus on conducting business in an environmentally responsible manner and are dedicated to making communities a better place for generations to come.