How to promote bee health

By Susan Johnson
Copy Editor

What can the general public do?

1. Plant lavender and marjoram in your garden, as these are among the flowers most attractive to bees. Some sources are: J. Carlson Growers, Inc., 8938 Newburg Road, Rockford, (815) 332-5610 — will order lavender or marjoram; Gensler Gardens Center, 102 Orth Road, Loves Park, (815) 885-1765 and 8631 11th St., Davis Junction, (815) 874-9634 — both have lavender; Garden of Eder, 2 miles west of I-94 on Racine County Hwy. K, Raymond-Franksville, Wis., (262) 835-1000 or — has several types of lavender; Home Depot, 1580 W. Lane Road, Machesney Park, (815) 282-8234 and 6930 Argus Road, Rockford, (8154) 391-8880 — both have lavender and marjoram; K & W Greenery, 1328 U.S. Hwy. 14 East, Janesville, Wis., (608) 752-8917 or — has five different kinds of lavender, also marjoram; Meridian Nursery, 719 Cunningham Road, Rockford, (815) 965-1239 — sells lavender; Rock Valley Garden Center, Inc., 785 N. Bell School Road, Rockford, (815) 398-1937 — has lavender and marjoram; Village Green Home & Garden, 2640 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 877-7027 and 6101 E. Riverside Blvd., Rockford, (815) 877-9559 — both locations have lavender and marjoram; Wind Ridge Herb Farm, 466 Quail Trap Road, Caledonia, (815) 885-1444 — has lavender and marjoram. Open by appointment only.

2. Tell retailers Home Depot and Lowe’s to stop selling bee-killing pesticides, as they now stock neonicotinoids manufactured by Bayer.

3. Sign the online petition to Bayer from, asking the company to withdraw their neonicotinoid pesticides from the market. Go to

4. Urge the U.S. government to follow the lead of the European Union and act to protect a vital component of our food system and healthy ecosystems. Urge Congress to pass the Saving America’s Pollinators Act, H.R. 2692.

If you are a beekeeper, here’s what you can do:

1. Do not combine collapsing colonies with healthy ones.

2. If you find abandoned hive equipment, and the cause of bee death is suspicious, store the equipment so other bees cannot live in it. Do not reuse this equipment.

3. Use an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach for varroa control in honey bee colonies. This will minimize bee exposure to potentially toxic chemicals.

4. Keep colonies strong by practicing best management practices. Management style is a broad category, but it can include the type of income pursued with bees (honey production, pollination services, etc.) or what routine colony management beekeepers perform (splitting hives, swarm control, chemical use, etc.) Both of these vary considerably among beekeepers, so this possible cause of CCD is given less attention.

5. If you feed your bees sugar syrup, use Fumagillin.

6. If you are experiencing colony collapse and see a secondary infection, such as Europena Foulbrood, treat the colonies with oxytetracycline, not tylosin.

7. In California: Oppose the use of Clothianidin. As Earthjustice reported in its Summer 2013 quarterly magazine, “Despite a widespread collapse of honeybee colonies, California’s pesticide-regulating agency has recommended approval of a bee-killing pesticide for use on rice. Clothianidin is also lethal to aquatic creatures that live in the flooded rice fields. Also at risk are nearby orchards of almonds and plums, which bees pollinate, so a major bee die-off would be catastrophic. Earthjustice has appealed to the agency to reverse its position.

From the May 21-27, 2014, issue

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