Are Our Bees Threatened? No, But It's A Little More Complicated Than That

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RENO, NV - Behold the honey bee, the very symbol of hard work and natural health.

It has a lot of people worried these days and some of them will gather in Idlewild Park Saturday morning, don bee costumes and express that concern.

"The goal is to bring awareness about pesticides and herbicide that's being used on public parks, public property," says Sandy Rowley, who heads the Save The Bees Reno campaign.

Rowley longs for a world without pesticides, but her immediate aim is systemic chemicals and those that target adult insects like mosquitoes.

She fired her first shots in this battle a week ago after county health officials had spread an insecticide through fogging trucks in Spanish Springs after West Nile virus was identified there. A threat, she said, to honey bee colonies.

But the state's own expert says our honey bees are doing just fine.

"Overall, the bee colony health and the number of bee colonies we have in northern Nevada is substantial," says State Entymologist Jeff Knight.

Rowley says her concern is not just about honey bees.

"He's focusing on the commercial aspect. We're focusing on the community aspect. Native pollinators are in decline."

She's talking about bumble bees, leaf cutter bees, butterflies, even hummingbirds.

"There are some threats to our other pollinators due to habitat loss, things like that," says Knight, noting climate change may be affecting native bumble bees and the drought maybe playing a role as well.

Pesticides? "Maybe a little tiny bit."

Knight applauds people planting pollinator-friendly plants and he favors an integrated pest management approach using chemicals sparingly and as a last resort.

"Don't go spraying the entire yard because you had one plant with aphids on it. Use alternatives such as predators or parasites. Use the more green pesticides."

If we do, honey bees, all the other pollinators and their fans in and out of costume will breathe a little easier.