Can Buying Organic Save the Bees?

Can Buying Organic Save the Bees

If you’re as disturbed about the declining bee population as I am, you’re probably wondering (or maybe already know) what is causing their decline?

The answer in a word: insecticides.

As if spraying toxic chemicals on our food wasn’t really bad enough, these chemicals are playing a role in destroying our planet and our little fuzzy friends - the bees. As a result of this, the bee population statistics are heartbreaking. From 5 million 75 years ago to only 2.5 million today (source: Now, this same website talks about different mites and parasites that could be causing the bee decline, as well as the weather, but let’s get real: they’re not about to admit that their legal poisons are killing our planet and threatening our food supply. 

The class of insecticides thought to be responsible for bee deaths all over the United States is neonicotinoids, which includes imidacloprid (the most commonly used one), clothianidin, thiamethoxam, acetamiprid, and nitenpyram. What are these things? If you’re like me, you’ve never seen these words in your life. Or, maybe you’ve just never read the back of that bottle of wasp killer you bought over the summer. 

So, the question is, can buying organic save the bees?

Probably Not

I’m all about buying organic, even though I know the farmers are still using pesticides on it (many people don't know that as long as farmers use pesticides derived from natural sources they can still be certified as organic). The reason I choose organic is because I consider it to be the lesser of the two evils. But enough about my supermarket purchases and more about the bees. Since organic produce still often uses pesticides, buying organic produce likely won’t save them. The organic pesticide rotenone (yes organic pesticide) is controversial regarding its toxicity to bees. When neonicotinoids are used on crops, they get absorbed into the pollen and nectar of the plants, which is where the bees come in. The bees drink the nectar and the residue from the insecticide gets trapped on their hairy legs, and then they ultimately die. Some of them are merely intoxicated and they can no longer find their way back to their hives and then die. Others make it back to the hive but then they die there. The same thing can happen with rotenone. If buying organic won’t have the bees, then what will? 

Global Change

There’s been something wrong with the way we produce and eat food for a long time. We need global change, not just the simple banning of insecticides, to save the bees. Some people propose that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are the answer. But those theories involve protecting the bees from viruses and mites. Regarding pesticides, however, GMOs pose their own risk. GMOs contain their own insect resistant pesticides. While some studies have shown that GMOs are safe, there are other studies that show increased risk for health problem with the consumption of GMOs. The problem comes down to the fact that we just haven’t had enough time with GMOs around to really know how they affect us, and yet most of the country is eating them, often without knowing it. But that's another topic for another day.

What Can You Do?

There are things that you can do to help save the bees that don’t involve standing in the supermarket aisle for an hour whispering to yourself, “Organic? Conventional? Organic? Conventional?” while holding two heads of lettuce. They are:

Planting flowers and bee-friendly plants. Plant them, water, and oh yeah, DON’T spray them with insecticide! Help keep bees healthy and not poisoned by having natural plants in your yard. 

Grow your own produce. Growing your own produce can be empowering and you won’t have to choose organic or non-organic because you’ll have LOCAL food in your backyard! If you don’t have a backyard, consider potting your vegetables. This can also minimize your weed pulling time. 

Become a beekeeper. Ok, you don’t have to do this, but it would be awesome!

Buy local. Buying local honey or produce can help you support your bee community and minimize your reliance on produce that’s been treated with insecticides. This will also support your local economy. Farmers Markets are growing in popularity all over the country. A simple Google search should help you find one close to home.

Change won’t happen overnight for us or our bee friends, and buying organic may not be the answer, but we can all make small changes to help encourage the bee population. We can also raise our voices to let the farming industry know exactly what we think of insecticide usage on our food. Save the bees!

10/4/2015 7:00:00 AM
Jenn Ryan
Written by Jenn Ryan
Jenn Ryan is a health and wellness extraordinaire who's fascinated by secret truths. She was last photographed at a tea shop in Washington DC wearing way too much glitter.
View Full Profile Website:

Here is some additional information and promising research into saving the bees naturally.
Posted by Bob Lawrason
To save bees, force the Genetic modified crops to be labeled. The roundup laced pollen sure harms the brood during late summer.
Posted by phillip
Its cell phone networks that are not only disorienting the bees but they are also causing migratory birds to lose their way. You won't read about that either because who is going to stop it?
Posted by KC
Your information is wrong . Been a pest control tech for 15 years and have yet sprayed honey bees. We always have a bee keeper to come get them. If used per label they are our friend.
Posted by ward
Pesticides have been around for YEARS...Don't get me wrong, I don't want to eat them either, but I highly doubt that's what is killing off the bees, or we would have seen this decline many years ago. However, the EMF in our atmosphere has increased tremendously in the last ten years, so I am more inclined to believe it's due to that.
Posted by JD
This was an informative article...I didn't know organic food uses an insecticide. I grow house plants and flowers in my garden and my heart flutters when I see the bees hovering around my flowers. But I'm clueless about growing veggies and fruit. In fact, hubby and I planted two peach trees 2 years ago and well, the deer really enjoyed them. Do you know of a good resource or if you get the notion to start an educational lecture series in the DMV on growing your own fruits and veggies in your backyard, I'll be the first to buy a ticket, stand in line or
both. So educational resources? classes?
Posted by Michelle Gray
I feel encouraged to start my garden....In the spring, of course!
Your writing helped me feel like I could be a part of the solution by also doing something good for me & my family.
Thank you!
Posted by Rebecca Harrold

Related Keywords does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment nor do we verify or endorse any specific business or professional listed on the site. does not verify the accuracy or efficacy of user generated content, reviews, ratings or any published content on the site. Use of this website constitutes acceptance of the Terms of Use.
©2024 Wellness®.com is a registered trademark of, Inc. Powered by Earnware