Canberra public is "behind" on the issue, ACT for Bees says

The Canberra public is "behind" on the issue of pesticides and herbicides toxic to bees, an ACT parliamentary inquiry has heard.

ACT for Bees called on the government to ban chemicals containing harmful neonicotinoids in the capital in a submission to the inquiry on Canberra's green spaces.

ACT for Bees founder Julie Armstrong in her garden with a bee-friendly sacred basil plant. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

ACT for Bees founder Julie Armstrong in her garden with a bee-friendly sacred basil plant. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

But Labor and the Greens have avoided making any commitments on the issue.

ACT for Bees also recommended the ACT introduce a labelling system for plants for sale, guaranteeing they were free "from seed to sale" of the chemicals.

Founder Julie Armstrong told Wednesday's inquiry people weren't aware of the chemical's effects on bees.

"The public is really behind on this issue," Ms Armstrong said. "The education for residents is absolutely critical ... many of the nurseries still don't know what we're talking about."

Speaking to The Canberra Times on Friday, Ms Armstrong said Canberrans should be looking at making their garden "bee friendly".

"Anyone can do it and it's also good for you when you do it," she said.

Ms Armstrong said the ACT had an opportunity to become a leader in Australia by banning the chemicals.

Bee-friendly environments would also have a positive effect on people's mental health, Ms Armstrong said.

She told the inquiry the government had to be praised for phasing out the use of related chemicals, as well as some major retailers who had stopped selling products containing them.

Ms Armstrong said the government's approved plants for urban landscape projects needed more native plant species to attract more bees.

The submission pointed to studies linking neonicotinoids to the "decimation of bees and colony collapse around the globe".

Neonicotinoids have been linked to a massive collapse in France's bird population.

Several countries in the European Union have completely banned neonicotinoids or banned most chemicals containing them. Canada's health body is phasing out the use of related chemicals.

The ACT city services directorate currently uses one chemical being phased out in Canada to deal with European wasps but is also looking to phase out its use.

Ms Armstrong also warned the inquiry of the size of Canberra's new housing blocks, where houses cover almost the whole block leaving little green space.

"Biodiversity is up to street trees," Ms Armstrong said.

Her submission made several other recommendations, including calling on Chief Minister Andrew Barr to ask the federal pesticides authority to review the use of pesticides containing neonicotinoids.

Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur said she believed the government should review and phase out the use of neonicotinoids, while Labor MLA and City Services Minister Chris Steele said the directorate was actively reducing their use.