Maine Legislature Votes to Advance Protection of Bees From Pesticide


Logo for Environment Maine, of Which Anya Fetcher, is the Executive Director.

The Maine Legislature voted today to advance a measure that would prohibit the use of certain neonicotinoids (neonics) for outdoor residential use.  The bill, sponsored by Rep. Nicole Grohoski (Ellsworth) passed by a bipartisan 92 – 53 vote in the House and 27 – 7 in the Senate.  While this is a clear signal that the bill has the backing to become law, the measure will face additional votes in the Legislature before reaching the Governor’s desk according to a press release issued today by the Augusta-based  Environment Maine.

Neonics are a class of insecticides that affect the central nervous system and are highly toxic to invertebrates, such as bees and butterflies.  They are systemic chemicals, meaning when they are absorbed into a plant, they become available in nectar and pollen and remain in soil and groundwater long after they’re applied.

If signed into law, LD 155 would prohibit the four most harmful neonics – whether they are used by residents or licensed applicators for non-essential purposes in residential landscapes.  An exception would be made if the use was required to safeguard public health or to manage emergency invasive species.

“Given that a significant body of evidence now links neonic use to massive bee population losses, there is no justification for the use of these pesticides for cosmetic purposes in our residential areas; a prettier lawn or rose garden doesn’t cut it,” said Anya Fetcher, Environment Maine State Director.  “Thousands of Mainers have voiced their support for a ban on bee-killing pesticides and today’s bipartisan House vote reflects that.  We applaud Rep. Grohoski and leaders in the Senate for doing the work necessary to protect Maine’s bees and other pollinators.”

In Maine and around the country, the declining health of pollinators, such as honeybee and wild bees, is cause for great concern.  During the winter of 2019, 20, Maine beekeepers reported loosing 41 percent of their colonies.  Additionally, more then half of all native bee populations are in decline including some of Maine’s 270 native bee species.  Bee populations in decline hint an environmental challenges that can affect all life in the area.

“Neonicotinolds have been proven to negatively impact the health of pollinators, thus jepordizing the availability of so many of our favorite foods and flowers,” Rep. Grohoski said.  “I am proud of the Maine House for voting to advance LD 155 to limit unnecessary uses of these chemicals.  The passage of this legislation would be a critical step forward to protect our environment and hard-working pollinators.”