Ace Is Now the Place With Fewer Bee-Killing Pesticides

The hardware chain moves to eliminate products containing insecticides linked to pollinator deaths.
(Photo: Connie J. Spinardi/Getty Images)
May 27, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

Ace Hardware had been the holdout when it came to removing pesticides linked to the mass die-off of honeybees that pollinate a third of the world’s crops.

Big-box competitor Home Depot announced last year that it would require suppliers to label plants sprayed with neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides. In April, Lowe’s said it would phase out the sale of neonic-treated plants.

Now Ace has caught the buzz. On Tuesday, the world’s largest retailer-owned hardware co-op said it is “willing to move away” from selling plants containing neonicotinoids.

The move comes two weeks after President Barack Obama released a strategy to save the bees, including examining the impact of neonics and other pesticides.

“We’re committed to providing our customers with products that not only meet their needs, but that are also in compliance with applicable laws and regulations from environmental agencies and regulators,” Frank Carroll, Ace Hardware’s vice president of merchandising, said in a statement.

Details on when neonicotinoid products will be removed from store shelves were not released, and an Ace representative did not respond to a request for comment.

RELATED: Home Depot Decides Secret Pesticides Probably Don't Belong in Bee-Friendly Plants

Each Ace Hardware store owner has wide latitude in choosing what products to offer.

For Michelle Leopold, owner of a Marin County, California, Ace Hardware store, corporate headquarters’ move to eliminate neonics was overdue. Leopold has been selling neonicotinoid-free plants since 2013, when she saw a documentary about bees called Queen of the Sun.

“I just realized that I can have an impact on the bees since I owned this store, and we provided a lot of the plants to gardeners in the region,” Leopold said.

She educated herself on what neonic-class pesticides were lurking in the products on her shelves, too, and self-labeled them.

“For the most part, people here stopped buying those labeled products because they really care what’s going into the water and into the environment,” Leopold said.

Bee expert Tiffany Finck-Haynes of the environmental group Friends of the Earth said she hopes Ace’s announcement means the chain will take neonic-containing lawn and garden products—such as Bayer’s Power Force multipurpose insect killer, Ortho’s flower fruit and vegetable insect killer, and Scotts’ Rose Pride rose and flower insect killer—off the shelves so more backyards are safer for bees.

She said Ace’s decision could have been due in part to the thousands of petition signatures and calls sent in from citizens demanding that neonics be removed from store products.

“In the past year, more than 20 nurseries, landscaping companies, and retailers have taken steps to eliminate bee-killing pesticides from their stores,” Finck-Haynes said.