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How to avoid hurting bees when using pesticides in your yard

Local experts say both insecticides and herbicides can kill bees at a rapid rate.

SPOKANE, Wash. — We love getting a break from winter here in the Inland Northwest.

Colorful displays of flowers begin to bloom, but unfortunately those pesky weeds and harmful pests always seem to come back. It's why some turn to pesticides or herbicides.

But, like any tool you if you don't use it right, you could cause more problems, especially for bees.

Tim Kohlhauff, a master gardener with Washington State University, said using these products in the wrong way can have disastrous effects.

"When you use something like that the wrong way it can cause some really negative impacts," Kohlhauff said.

Pesticides are one of the biggest threats for bees, essentially they poison them, he said. Whether it's an insecticide or a herbicide, they can all kill an already rapidly dying population.

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"When people use an insecticide, what they want, what they're trying to do is get rid of an insect, but bees are also insects and the pesticides really don't know the difference,' Kohlhauff said.

No one wants dandelions or other pests in their yard, and Kohlhauff said there are two ways to ensure you kill only those pesky weeds, and not the bees.

You can use a contact insecticide that kills pests on the spot and is less likely to kill bees once it dries up, he said. 

Systemic sprays, which contain chemicals that go deep into the plant and are then consumed by bees, can still kill them.

 "We don't think about bees feeding on plants, we think about them pollinating, but we don't realize, they're feeding on the nectar of the plants  and also collecting pollen to bring back to the hive," he said.

Some are labeled as bee friendly giving consumers some help as they shop.

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The following video is a report on what experts think is killing off bees.