Save the Bees: Legislature passes bill limiting bee-killing pesticides

Media Contacts

DENVER – Colorado is poised to become the ninth overall state, and the first non-eastern state, to put limits on dangerous bee-killing pesticides after the legislature passed SB23-266, sponsored by Senators Kevin Priola and Sonya Jaquez Lewis and Representatives Cathy Kipp and Kyle Brown.

The bill comes at a critical moment for pollinator health in Colorado. While home to 946 native bee species, one recent study found the western bumble bee has declined 72% in parts of Colorado, attributing the decline in part due to neonics.

Neonicotinoids (neonics) are a class of insecticides. According to a study in National Geographic, neonics are 1000 times more toxic to bees than DDT. Sublethal doses cause immune deficiencies and disorientation, making it hard to forage, fly, return to their hive, and complete other essential tasks like ridding themselves of parasitic varroa mites.

SB23-266 would direct the Department of Agriculture to categorize neonics used in gardens and other outdoor spaces as a limited-use pesticide that can only be sold by pesticide dealers. This would remove these neonics from store shelves at most garden stores and big box retailers and would reduce their overall use, especially in urban areas where increasingly good pollinator habitat can be supported.

The bill heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature. The new rule must be adopted by January 1, 2024.

In response, CoPIRG and Environment Colorado released the following statements:

“From Palisade peaches to Rocky Ford melons, apples to alfalfa, our state depends on pollinators for a healthy food supply and healthy gardens,” said Danny Katz, CoPIRG executive director. “Pesticides such as neonics, which are so deadly for bees and other key pollinators, should not be sold on store shelves where anyone can just buy them and dump them on our gardens and lawns. The risk to the health of our state is too high and not worth it.”

“By passing this bill, we are taking some of the sting out of an increasingly toxic environment for bees,” said Ellen Montgomery, public land director with Environment Colorado. “Taking these pesticides off the shelves is a critical step toward saving the bees. We can now promise our pollinators, which play such a critical role in the health of our ecosystems from the plains to the mountains, a safer Centennial State into the future. We called for the legislature to help save the bees and they listened. We now urge Governor Polis to sign this bill and make Colorado less toxic for our pollinators.”