View Full Version : How harmful is agricultural sulfur to bees in an orchard?

06-08-2012, 04:09 AM
I have read that agricultural sulfur is "practically non-toxic" to honey bees.

I will be placing hives in an orchard that is treated organically but I'm still concerned about the spraying ...

Tom Brueggen
06-08-2012, 05:10 AM
Depends on the type of sulfur. I just looked it up real quick and this was the first article I found.


I always just thought the smell of it was more of deterrent than anything else, so I guess if the bees didn't like the smell they might not visit the plants. But sulfur has the ability to make things go acidic, so be careful when handling and applying it.

06-08-2012, 05:25 AM
I have always been told elemental sulfur is a non-issue for bees. We maintain our small orchard organically, and spraying sulfur (for scab) during bloom is almost always necessary and even repeated if rains are heavy.

That said, I still attempt to spray in the AM before activity or in PM after activity....why cover them with sulfur dust if you don't have to. But I think I am over cautious. Sulfur is a fungicide, and not a very potent one for that matter. There are very few insects it has much effect on. Some mites, thrips, and I believe a few soft body types like scale....would have to check on that

06-08-2012, 08:27 AM
Just dont burn it near the hive. Sulfur smoke is deadly to bees.

06-08-2012, 09:26 AM
Sulpher should not cause a problem for the bees. Are they applying it during blossom? I wonder if the bees will pick some of it up and bring it back to the hive?

"Organic" insecticides like pyrethroids are highly toxic to bees. However, it degrades very rapidly in sunlight so there is very little residual toxicity. Foragers that are sprayed will probably not make it back to the hive.