Environment Massachusetts is conducting a statewide Save the Bees campaign this summer, canvasing to encourage people to take action to prevent bees from dying off. The campaign is specifically geared to passage of an act to protect Massachusetts pollinators, which would restrict the use of neonicotonoid pesticides, or neonics, a type of insecticide that is toxic to bees.

“People are worried that our bees are dying, but they often don’t know what they can do to help,” said Brendan Geraghty, a canvasser working with Environment Massachusetts, in a press release. “I’m walking our neighborhoods this summer not only to educate people about this critical problem, but also to encourage them to act.”

While bees face many threats, including climate change and Varroa mites, improper pesticide use is a threat that can be fought fairly directly.

“It’s a matter of using [pesticides] correctly and not overusing them, and letting people know when you’re using them,” said William Hamilton, operator of Black Birch Farm Apiaries in West Newbury.

Hamilton said he had seen no negative effects of pesticides on his bee hives, because he was always alerted before any pesticide distribution in his area and could put a net over the bees to prevent them from flying.

Mike Garvey, a member of the Essex County Beekeepers Association, helps to educate local residents on proper use of pesticides. He advocates using short-lived insecticides that specifically target certain insects, and not pollinators. He has given talks for the Essex County Greenbelt Association on effective ways to control pests without killing bees, but thinks more can be done.

“We support the state’s efforts to produce legislation to ban the use of certain pesticides,” said Garvey, speaking on behalf of the Beekeepers Association.

The legislation, H.4041, sponsored by state Rep. Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston, among others, was backed by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee.

It would ban use of certain pesticides near agricultural lands, require certified commercial pesticide applicators to be trained in the use of neonicotinoids and the proper techniques to minimize risks, among other stipulations.

The legislation to restrict or ban certain pesticides is a tangible step that beekeepers and environmental groups can work towards, and one that Environment Massachusetts has been particularly focused on in the past few years.

“No bees means no food, and the first step in saving the bees is eliminating the pesticides that kill them,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for Environment Massachusetts, in a press release. “Massachusetts can play a big role by restricting the use of neonics.”

Maryland and Connecticut have already banned neonics for consumers.

More on the web: https://environmentmassachusetts.org/