The world’s largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative, Ace Hardware, is becoming more “bee-friendly” by phasing out inventory products associated with neonicotinoid pesticides. Neonicotinoids — sometimes called ‘neonics’ for short — are notoriously toxic to bees. Ace Hardware’s move to distance itself from neonics is a step closer to promoting better pollinator population health.
Neonicotinoids work as an insecticide by disrupting neural transmission. This is owing to neonics’ design to mimic the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Disruption of the normal activity of an insect’s central nervous system takes place when neonicotinoids bind onto its acetylcholine receptors. In doing so, insect neurons are adversely affected through over-excitation, to the point of paralysis. Repeat exposure increases neural vulnerability and toxicity so that the insect neuron is destroyed.
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Unfortunately, bees have higher numbers of acetylcholine receptors than other insects, thereby occasioning their increased susceptibility to neonicotinoids. What’s more, bees have fewer genes for detoxification, thus they are not as capable of detoxifying harmful chemicals compared to other insects.
Bee exposure to neonicotinoids is rather pernicious. Studies reveal that neonics accumulate in individual bees, resulting in adverse defects in memory, flight, dance coordination, communication abilities and pollen collection effectiveness. Correspondingly, bees exposed to contaminated pollen and nectar bring them back to the nest. This exposes the colony to further risks, such as increased insect mortality, widespread susceptibility to neural disruption within the hive, erratic behavior in the colony, increased queenlessness and subsequent population decline.
In light of this, Ace Hardware’s move to eliminate neonicotinoid pesticides from its store shelves sounds promising. The hardware store giant announced, “Currently, over 95 percent of the insecticide product offerings distributed by Ace Hardware Corporation are neonicotinoid-free.” More natural and organic products are being added to the Ace Hardware inventory to help bee, butterfly and other pollinator populations bounce back from the brink.
Ace Hardware’s greener, more bee-friendly approach echoes that of other garden retailers like Costco, Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart and Whole Foods, all of which have expressed similar commitment to better stewardship of the environment.
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