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Protect honeybees from pesticides

POSTED: July 15, 2009 4:00 a.m.

Most people understand the importance of honeybees, but every year there are unintentional kill or damage of honeybee colonies resulting from insecticide usage. 


Many of our commercial and hobby beekeepers suffer serious losses each year from pesticides applied on or near colonies. This is a situation for which there is no easy answer, but one which we must address ourselves.


One of the best ways to reduce honeybee kill is for farmers and gardeners to use pesticides correctly.  By limiting sprays, and use pesticides only when bees are not present, we can reduce bee kills.


Some factors or conditions that prevent and reduce bee kills are listed as follows:


• Apply chemicals at night or during early morning hours before bees forage.


• Try to treat the plants before they come into bloom, or after the blooming period.


• Sprays do not drift as far as dusts and, consequently, are less likely to harm bees.


• Read the label and follow approved local, state and federal recommendations.


• Do not spray or dust chemicals near colonies, especially in hot weather when the bees cluster outside the hive.


• Make as few treatments as possible because repeated applications greatly increase the damage to colonies.


• Remember that treating a non-blooming crop, when weeds and wild flowers are in bloom in the field or close by, can cause bee losses.


• Do not treat an entire field or area if local spot treatments will control the harmful pests.


• Remember that the time the pesticide is applied, depending on the blooming period and attractiveness of the crop, makes a big difference in the damage to the bees; therefore, treat the field when the plants are least attractive to bees.


Honeybees may be killed when crops are treated with pesticides. When this occurs, gardeners, farmers and the beekeepers suffer a loss. 


For this reason, they need to cooperate fully in protecting the bees from pesticide damage.


For further information, contact the extension office at (706) 265-2442.


Clark Beusse is the Dawson County extension agent.



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