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What are neonicotinoids and why should they be avoided?

  • by
  • Gene Caballero
  • October 17, 2021

Honey bees are insanely important partners in our journey through life on planet earth. Without them, the food we consume every day would have to change dramatically. But one of the biggest culprits to the downfall of the honey bee has been neonicotinoids. So what are neonics? And why are they so bad for the bees? This infographic explains what you need to know. 

Why is colony collapse disorder so bad?

Look, 40% of bee colonies have collapsed in recent years. In fact, the number of bee colonies has dropped 90% since 1962. Worse still, bees have been losing more of their populations in the winter than they should. Much of this has to do with pesticide use, and one of the most prevalent is the neonics used as a pesticide on plants.

What are neonicotinoids?

Neonics are used to coat seeds, drench the soil, and are sprayed on crop foliage. They act as a “systemic pesticide” that is absorbed by all parts of the plant. These neonics are 5-10 thousand times more deadly than DDT insecticides to honey bees. 

What is the problem with neonicotinoids?

94% of these pesticides end up in the soil or water, and only 5% actually make it into the crops. Worse still 1% is released as toxic dust which floats about polluting nearby areas. 

How are neonicotinoids used?

They are used as seed treatments for cereals and sugar beets, as a soil treatment for potted plants, a treatment for turf, and as a foliar spray on apples, peas, and other crops. Even 70% of “bee-friendly” plants contain them. 

How do neonics affect bees?

These pesticides lead to eventual paralysis and death in bees. These effects change their foraging behaviors, communication, and breeding patterns, and destroy their memory. 

What are alternatives to these types of pesticides?

There are plenty of alternatives including beneficial insects, crop rotation, trap cropping, and use of natural or biologically friendly pesticides. 


At the end of the day, neonicotinoids are a real problem for the populations of bees that they impact. By spreading awareness of the issue, we can work to find alternative methods of pest control that can help the bees stay healthy and abundant. This infographic comes from Sun Leisure Instant Shelters.

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