Roundup is extremely harmful to bees. Different studies have shown that multiple ingredients in Roundup decimate local bee populations, contributing to a dangerous decrease in crucial pollinators worldwide. Glyphosate—the active ingredient in Roundup—can destroy helpful gut bacteria in bees. However, this is a slow killer. More alarming is new evidence that suggests that inactive ingredients in Roundup cling to bees and suffocates them. In order to protect bees, do not use Roundup products.
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How Does Roundup Hurt Bees?
Roundup causes adverse effects to bees in at least two ways that science has identified. Although the effects of glyphosate were the initial focus of the study, it was recently discovered that so-called “inert” or “inactive” ingredients in Roundup kill bees quickly. Because inactive ingredients are not tested by the FDA, Roundup continues to be manufactured with these harmful ingredients.
Inert Ingredients in Roundup Suffocate Bees on Contact
The first way that Roundup harms bees is by clinging to the hairs on their body, which suffocates the bees. This scientific study compared Roundup to other pesticides. The scientists found that Roundup killed bees at an alarming rate. One group of bees suffered a 94% mortality rate after being exposed to Roundup.
- Studies have shown that inactive ingredients in Roundup cling to bees and suffocate them.
- Large percentages of bees exposed to Roundup products died within 24 hours.
- Even Roundup products without Glyphosate contain this harmful bee killer.
It was found that the surfactants in Roundup products, which are designed to help the weed killer cling to plants, were the culprit. This chemical matted the hairs on the bees’ bodies, preventing gas exchange, suffocating the bees. Even Roundup products without Glyphosate contain this harmful surfactant. Any and all Roundup products are capable of killing bees within a day after contact.
Glyphosate in Roundup Kills Bees Slowly
The second way Roundup harms bees is through the inclusion of the active ingredient glyphosate. A University of Texas study found that glyphosate kills helpful gut bacteria in bees. Over days or weeks, exposure to glyphosate destroys the bacteria that keep bees healthy, rendering them susceptible to dangerous pathogens. Worker bees exposed to glyphosate products will gradually weaken and die, which in turn starves the entire hive.
- Glyphosate—the active ingredient in most types of Roundup—is also harmful to bees.
- Roundup exposure destroys bee gut bacteria, putting them at risk of deadly diseases.
- To keep bees safe, avoid all herbicides that contain glyphosate.
Bees move from flower to flower, obtaining pollen to feed their colony. Bees don’t differentiate from desirable plants and weeds, so bees will often stop on dandelion or clover flowers that have been recently sprayed with Roundup. Over time, they consume more Roundup-sprayed pollen, which destroys their gut bacteria and causes disease. In addition to Roundup, avoid using any glyphosate-based products. Both are deadly to bees.
Can You Use Roundup Around Beehives?
Never spray Roundup products near beehives. The negative effects of Roundup are potent enough that you can kill a large number of bees quickly if they come in contact with the inert ingredients. You can decimate a bee colony overnight by spraying any of the common herbicides in the Roundup product line.
- Do not use Roundup products around beehives under any circumstances.
- The sticky surfactants in Roundup cling to bees that land on Roundup-treated plants. This exposure will suffocate the bees.
- Even if bees aren’t exposed to the surfactant in Roundup, the glyphosate will slowly kill them.
Even if the bees in your hive aren’t quickly suffocated by the sticky inert ingredients in Roundup, the effects of glyphosate contained in Roundup will gradually starve and weaken the hive. Bee health is critical to the planet because bees pollinate the crops that provide our food. In order to encourage natural pollination, don’t use any Roundup products near a beehive or anywhere that bees feed.
How Long is Roundup Toxic to Bees?
Roundup is dangerous to bees for weeks after it has been sprayed. Most plants take 7–14 days to die after being sprayed with Roundup. During this time, any bees that land on the plant will be exposed to both the harmful inert products in Roundup and the deadly glyphosate. Truly, Roundup is extremely toxic to bees from the time it is sprayed on a plant until the plant dies.
- Any plants that have been sprayed with Roundup are potentially deadly to bees.
- Because plants take 7–14 days to die after being sprayed with Roundup, any treated plant is a deadly trap for bees.
- Roundup has a half-life of almost half a year—treated soil and surfaces may remain dangerous during this entire time.
Because glyphosate has a half-life of 174 days, it is dangerous to bees for several months after it has been sprayed. Roundup may be present in the soil, on nearby plants, or tree bark for a very long time. A bee could land on any of these surfaces and experience sickness or death.
What are the Alternatives to Using Roundup Around Bees?
If you’re looking to kill weeds without harming bees, here are several bee-safe options. Our favorite products are those that contain 2,4-D or Atrazine as the active ingredient. These pesticides have not been linked to bee death. Plus, as long as they are not produced under the Roundup brand, there’s a good chance these products don’t contain bee-suffocating surfactants.
- Use a herbicide that contains 2,4-D or Atrazine, not glyphosate.
- Consider mowing your lawn before spraying weed killer. This will cut off flowers and reduce the likelihood of bees landing on treated plants.
- Do not use a vinegar weed killer. The acetic acid in vinegar is very harmful to bees.
Keep in mind that just because a solution is considered “natural” doesn’t mean it is safe for bees. Homemade vinegar weed killers are extremely toxic to bees. Just because it’s not a Roundup product doesn’t mean it’s bee-safe. Avoid products like Preen as well.
Is Roundup Toxic to Honey Bees?
Roundup is extremely toxic to bees of all types, including honey bees and bumblebees. The ways in which Roundup is deadly to bees are:
- Inert Ingredients: Surfactants in Roundup products (even those without glyphosate) cling to bees and suffocate them.
- Active Ingredients: Glyphosate herbicide found in many Roundup products destroys bee gut bacteria, allowing disease to attack and kill bees.
Both of these claims that Roundup is deadly to bees are backed by scientific research. In order to allow bees to survive and continue pollinating our plants and crops, do not spray Roundup products.