Joanna Lidback: Banning neonicotinoids will put our farms and nature out of balance

Neonicotinoids have been a game changer for farmers in Vermont and the rest of America.  

Bees, Vermont Pollinators

Analysis: Do neonicotinoid and glyphosate pesticides threaten bees? A reassessment

Jon Entine

In 2006, honey bees by the millions mysteriously began abandoning their colonies, leaving behind the queen bee, attended by too few, immature worker bees to sustain the colony. There was no clear explanation for this ecological disaster, especially because the hives were found to have viable brood and stored food.

This phenomenon was later dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
Although honey bee colony numbers began to recover in 2009, according to USDA data, and subsequently stabilized, and honey bee hive numbers are now at record numbers globally, prominent environmental groups blamed the crisis on GMO crops engineered to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup, manufactured by Monsanto, now owned by Bayer). But there was little evidence to support this claim. Activists then targeted neonicotinoid insecticides as the culprit for honey bee declines, a controversial hypothesis GLP has covered extensively.

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Pollinator Health

Vermont honey bee count reaches historic high in 2023

The number of honey bee colonies in Vermont reached an all-time high in 2023, according to the most recent data from the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

The agency regulates the honey bee industry, and all beekeepers, including commercial and backyard apiaries, must register with the state.

There were 17,145 colonies registered in 2023, which was a 43% increase since 2016, and represents the largest number of colonies ever registered with the state.

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Honey bee pollinating flower

Support pollinators with milkweed types, like 'whorled,' 'swamp' and 'purple'

Vermont Public

Many gardeners know that milkweed is a great pollinator plant, especially for monarch butterflies. Monarchs use the flowers as a food source and also a place to lay their eggs. And the monarch larvae consume only milkweed as they grow and undergo metamorphosis, so it is essential!

Common milkweed, or asclepias syriaca, comes with cons as well as pros. Prolific in farm fields and on roadsides throughout the state, it can be aggressive once you introduce it into your garden.

Some good alternatives to the common milkweed can be just as beneficial to pollinator and less of a bully in your garden.

Honey bee on flower

UVM Extention: Native shrubs for pollinators


Adding shrubs to your landscape can have many benefits. After being planted, they can live for many years. They visually ground gardens, adding structure throughout the year. Perhaps most importantly, they can provide food and shelter for small mammals, birds and insects.

Native flowering shrubs also can attract and support pollinators in your garden. There are many fantastic flowering shrubs you can add that will appeal to pollinators and beneficial insects.

Vermont cranberry bush