How to protect your bees from pesticide spraying
Farmers and spray contractors should give nearby beekeepers 48 hours prior notice of their intention to spray. Ideally, in order to minimise the danger to bees and other flying insects, spraying should be done on an overcast still day in the evening or at night.
If a beekeeper should receive notice of an intention to spray, they need to assess the potential risk to their bees. If the spraying is to take place under the circumstances already mentioned, they might assess the risk as minimal and take no special measures. If the risk is considered more severe, the following steps could be taken:
Close up the bees partially with grass in the entrance, or completely for some hours but this runs a risk of overheating. To ameliorate this, the bees must be given extra comb space and be kept cool by replacing the crown board with a travelling screen. The use of open mesh floors assists ventilation. Give access to water for cooling by placing a sponge or damp cloth on part of the screen. Consider placing a screen over the hives/s to give some shade from the sun. If necessary, spray the hive with water from a hose to cool.
If deemed necessary move the hive/s 3 miles away while spraying is taking place.
Whilst it is stating the obvious that insecticides are poisonous to bees, there is now some evidence that fungicides also can be harmful to bees as they may potentiate the hazardous effects of other chemicals.
If a beekeeper thinks that their bees have been victims of poisoning as shown by a large number of dead and dying bees at the hive entrance, they should try to assess the possible or likely source. If possible identify the chemical used and on what crop,(photographic evidence is useful) keep a record of the date and weather, and collect a sample of at least 200 bees, keep in the freezer, and inform the Wildlfe Incident Investigation Service or their local bee inspector. It is prudent to keep a second sample in your freezer for independent analysis.
It should be noted that, in recent years, the commonest sources of poisons to bees have been gardeners’ pesticides and those used by pest control operators.
It goes without saying that a good relationship with neighbouring farmers is mutually beneficial!
—link to BBKA leaflet Honey bees and pesticides
Many pesticides kill bees and it is not widely know that the legislation governing the use of pesticides requires farmers and sprayers to keep local beekeepers informed about their spraying plans. If beekeepers are warned, then they can take action to protect their colonies, if they are not warned then the colonies can be killed by a single application of spray. Apart from killing an important source of pollinators that will affect your crops and those of your neighbours, farmers who fail to inform beekeepers risk legal action if bees are killed.
The legislation asks you to inform your local spray liaison officer : For West Cornwall – either email email@example.com or 01736 763876 48 hours ahead of your intention to spray. For the rest of the country check the British Beekeepers Association List at http://www.bbka.org.uk/help/spray_liaison . As bees fly up to three miles to forage for nectar you cannot assume that if you do not have hives in adjacent fields you are safe to spray. Spray liaison officers have records of where local hives are kept and will inform all potentially affected beekeepers on your behalf.
You will need to provide the following information:
- when you intend to spray (both day and time – the code of practice asks you to spray as late in the day as possible, not between the primary foraging times 8am until 5pm)
- what you intend to spray
- where you intend to spray (a postcode or OS grid reference for the field)
Please help us to protect the bees by following the guidelines. This message is supported by the National Farmers Union, the National Association of Agricultural Contractors, the Crop Protection Association and the British Beekeepers Association.
You must inform beekeepers you are planning to use any of the following products.
Alpha Bromolin (Makhteshim)
Alpha Bromotril (Makhteshim)
Alpha Chlorpyrifos (Makhteshim)
Antec Durakil (Antec Biosentry)
Atlas Somon (Nufarm)
Barrier H (Barrier)
Croptex Steel (Certis)
Dairy Fly Spray (BH&B)
Govern (United Agri)
Greencrop Tassle (Greencrop)
K&S Chlorofume (K&S Fumigation)
Mextrol Briox (Nufarm)
Natural Weed Spray No 1(Headland Amenity)
Pearl Micro (Bayer)
Stalwart (United Phosphorus)
Toppel (United Phosphorus)
Turbair Super Flydown (Summit Agro)
UPL Bifenthrin (United Phosphorus)