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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    6,080

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    I have bees on several farms and have been leary of the spraying for fruit trees in particular. I have not experienced anything like I hear of the "old-timers" who had piles of dead bees in the past. Chemicals are milder now than previously. I also notice other adjacent farms where bees are permanently placed and seem to be there and alive year after year. So heres some questions:

    Does anyone have permanently placed hives in orchards that spray? What are your results or tricks?

    I realize that you can have problems with honey and pesticides. For first year hives, can hives be left in an orchard? No planned honey anticipated.

    Even if I have a place away from the spraying (to many types to list) bees could travel a long distance to bring back pesticides. If the hives are not directly sprayed, what is the real impact of contamination of pollen?

    I have always thought, no matter what I do, I can not control my nieghbors or know what they are doing. I would think most beekeepers have nieghbors close enough to have problems.

    Anyone?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    hartley,texas,USA
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    65

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    I had a question along this line also .There are several places I want to put some bees that are near big corn fields and I was concerned how spraying the corn fields would impact the bees .I know corn doesnt have nectar just pollen so I wouldnt think the bees would spend too much time in the corn.I know my dad lost a lot of bees to pesticides in the 70s I remember piles of dead bees in front of the hives .but I have more questions than answers myself.
    Joens

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,329

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    I have all of my bees next to farmers fields. They rotate, but around me are always some corn, soy beans and alfalfa. I do know they spray something in the spring, I'm assuming it's an herbacide, but I'm not sure. Anyway, my bees do very well in this environment. I have not noticed any losses.

    On the other side, back in the 1970's I used to have bees in my back yard in town in Western Nebraska and the city would fog for mosquitoes with Malthion at 4:00 in the afteroon. This of course killed NO mosquitoes because they were not out. It devastated my bees. I called the EPA and they told me it was illegal to fog with incectacide for mosquitoes before dark. I complained and for about a week or two they fogged after dark, but soon went back to the 4:00 time.

    It is very frustrating to see piles of dead bees.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
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    7,923

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    From what I have read, it's usually spraying while the bees are active that kills them in great numbers (direct conact), but if the farmers will wait until dark to spray, it's much less dangerous to the bees. As for corn fields, there don't seem to be that many corn pests that would require heavy pesticides except those used for corn earworms. I am an organic gardener, so I'm not sure which chemicals they use for earworm problems. There are organic treatments that can be used that are not harmful to bees. If it were me, I would get to know some of these farmers and find out exactly what they spray, what they are trying to kill, and when they spray their crops. Sometimes, getting to know the farmers can help alleviate problems. You would probably be amazed at the numbers of farmers who aren't that well-informed about the importance of pollinators.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Portsmouth Virginia
    Posts
    12

    Post

    I think I have lost most of one hive to mosquitoe spraying. I put one hive at a friends home and all but about one comb of bees have disapeared. They are about 6 weeks old. The city has been spraying in this area before dark around 7PM. What do you folks think?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,329

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    Complain to the city that they are not only violating EPA rules, and killing your bees, they are wasting their money. The mosquitoes don't come out until dark and that's the only effective time to spray. If you don't get a response from the city, compain to the EPA. It may not buy you much, but I've a feeling back East the EPA is more responsive than out West.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,470

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    Hi Pepper,

    Your theory is very definitely possible. I had a personal communication with Dr. Pedro Rodriguez who lost a lot of hives in Suffolk as a result of mosquito spraying. Since your hive is so new, I'd check it to make sure your queen is alive and laying. Also, with such a weak hive you're susceptible to wax worms and small hive beetles. I also have a new hive about 6 weeks old and they are about 8 frames so far. I'd take action ASAP to insure that they can build-up faster.

    In my area (Chuckatuck) I'm surrounded by several cotton farms and last year I noticed a big die-off after the field closest to my hive was sprayed. Fortunately (I guess) it was late July and the hive had plenty of time to recover for winter.

    Are you a member of the Tidewater Beekeeper Association? If not, you should consider joining. If so, we should talk next Monday at the meeting.

    Good luck


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    White Heath, IL, USA
    Posts
    29

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    I am a farmer and can possible provide some information for the group. Also a disclaimer, I am located in the Midwest so most of what I state applies only to the corn belt.

    As a general rule, any time that you see a plane applying something to a farmer's field - you can be positive that it is an insecticide. The drift from this form of application is large - you will need to be very careful if you are anywhere down wind.

    Farmers almost never spray insecticides on soybeans - or at least I have never seen it. Because of recent changes in Soybean genetics, they have been spraying Roundup (Glyphosate) onto the beans typically once or twice each year. Other than destroying pollinating plants within the bean field - this should have no effect on your bees. Farmers who don't use Roundup Ready soybeans will also spray pre-emergence and post-emergence herbicides of various kinds - but again, nothing that should hurt your bees.

    Corn does suffer from a number of insect pests. Most farmers, but certainly not all, have switched to applying pesticides into the seedbed in a band about six inches wide and two inches deep. This provides excellent protection from most corn pests and will have no impact on any foraging insects. It is also very expensive to do. In order to save money, some farmers will simply not apply pesticides in this way and hope for the best. If they do develop insect problems later in the year - their only choice is to accept the loss in yield, or to apply pesticides (a straightforward economic analysis).

    Alfalfa fields are never sprayed with insecticide when they are close to harvest (and this is the only time that bees will show an interest in alfalfa). There is too great a chance for pesticide residues to contaminate the hay.

    Pastures are a mixed bag. In this area, they are rarely sprayed with pesticides. With that being said, we did have an attack of army worms about two years ago and had to spray all of our pastures with pesticides. In most cases, the farmers will never intensively manage pastures (there is not much money in it after all) and you should only rarely experience any problems.

    I also have a friend in the panhandle region of Texas who raises cotton. They are constantly spraying insecticides onto their fields during the growing season. You will need to monitor any colonies that are close to a cotton field very closely. If you see a sprayer during the growing season, chances are very good that they are applying some form of pesticide.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Portsmouth Virginia
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    12

    Post

    Thanks for the replies..
    I am hoping there are enough bees left inside to recover. The queen should not have been affected (hope)since she was inside all the time.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,329

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    Bees coming back with pesticide sprayed pollen and feeding the queen could easily kill the queen.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
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    BeeCultivador,

    Perhaps you could give us a farmer's perspective how a beekeeper should most effectively approach a farmer who is not following application directions and spraying their fields at times that can do significant damage to bee populations? The die-off mentioned in my previous post was a result of a 9:00 am spraying of a cotton field about 600 yards from my house. The spray is applied using tractors not airplanes. I asked the State Apiarist what approach to use and he didn't give me much to work with. He basically suggested that I talk to the extension agent.

    Any pointers welcome.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    White Heath, IL, USA
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    29

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    It has been a while since I have read application directions for pesticides - and remember I know very little about cotton farming.

    Shooting from the hip though...
    I think that there are two types of directions on the labels. The first deals with what a farmer must do in applying the pesticide. These are things like applying the correct amount of pesticide - too little and you chance building a resistant population of insects. Too much, and you run the risk of residue and runoff.

    The second set of label directions would be considered suggestions. These are things like not spraying when the wind exceeds a certain velocity to minimize drift (a farmer could be held liable if chemicals drift onto a neighboring plot of land and cause damage). It also includes statements on spraying at appropriate times of the day to avoid hurting beneficial insects (such as the honey bee). These are not requirements though - they simply represent a set of "best practices."

    I believe that the reason the State Apiary Inspector gave you little advice is due to the fact that the farmer is well within his legal rights to spray his field at a time of his own choosing. I anticipate that you would get a similar response from the Extension Agent.

    With that being said. If you had noticed that the farmer was spraying an insecticide and had confined your bees, and then the pesticide drifted on the wind into your apiary - you would definitely have a case to pursue. I assume that this is not the case though.

    With all that being said - I realize that I haven't answered your question. The best approach that you could take would be to find out who the farmer is; approach them in a friendly, non-confrontational way; explain that you have an apiary which is located very near his fields; and that you would like to be notified before spraying of insecticides to ensure that you can keep your bees at home that day. Most farmers know a day or two in advance when and what they are going to be spraying and I am sure they would not mind giving you a courtesy call.

    If you were also to go the extra mile and deliver a small quantity of honey to the farmer each year, it would make the relationship work even better. This will make him feel more friendly and will remind him of what he might be destroying.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
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    BeeCultivador,

    Thank you for the input. I appreciate hearing a farmer's perspective! Since your last note, I've done a little research on this matter and I've discovered a few interesting things. First, I agree that a friendly, non-confrontational way (and perhaps a bit of education on the effects pesticides on beneficial pollinators) would be the best way to achieve success. However, through my research, I believe that your statement:

    [It also includes statements on spraying at appropriate times of the day to avoid hurting beneficial insects (such as the honey bee). These are not requirements though - they simply represent a set of "best practices."]

    is incorrect. It’s my understanding that it is a federal law that that applicators MUST comply with labeled instructions. Please see:

    Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act 7 U.S.C. s/s 136 et seq. (1996)

    SUBCHAPTER II ENVIRONMENTAL PESTICIDE CONTROL

    Sec. 136j. - Unlawful acts

    a.2.G It shall be unlawful for any person -
    to use any registered pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its labeling;

    Here's a pointer to that reference:
    http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/7/ch6schII.html

    And another reference
    http://www.pollinator.com/trespassers.htm

    I realize that a law is one thing; enforcement is sometimes a completely different thing. Nonetheless, it appears to be illegal to apply pesticides not according to label directions. This may be of some recourse to those suffering large losses from mosquito spraying.


  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    White Heath, IL, USA
    Posts
    29

    Post

    I do fully understand that it is a serious offense to not follow label directions exactly. I may not have been real clear on my previous post about what type of language is placed in these labels.

    Here is an example label for a granular insecticide that we use in our operations:

    http://www.cdms.net/ldat/ld4B1000.pdf

    As I stated previously, this is a granular insecticide applied (typically) in a narrow band around the seed - and thus represents no problem for bees.

    And here is another example label for a pesticide that is sprayed (probably more relevant for this discussion) on cotton fields:

    http://www.cdms.net/ldat/ld3PB005.pdf

    The important point to make (again) is that every label contains language which specify actions that MUST be taken (it is a violation of federal law as outlined in your post), and actions that SHOULD be taken (following these types of instructions is considered "best practice" and is taught to all pesticide applicators - but not following them is NOT a violation of federal law).

    If you look carefully at the second example label given above you will not the following text:

    "This pesticide is toxic to bees exposed to direct application. Applications SHOULD (emphasis added) be timed to coincide with periods of minimum bee activity, usually between late evening and early morning."

    And to give a direct contrast to this language:

    "Due to the risk of runoff and drift, do NOT (emphasis added) apply within a distance of 300 feet of lakes, ponds..."

    I know that reading actual product labels is less than entertaining - but there are small differences in the language which lead to very large differences in legal liability.

    In short, a farmer CAN apply a chemical known to kill honeybees at a time of known activity without violating any thing more than best practices specified on the label.

    Your best bet is to approach the farmer in a non-confrontational way; explain what is happening; and ask for notification so that you can protect your bees.



    [This message has been edited by BeeCultivador (edited May 13, 2003).]

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
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    I don't mean to be argumentative and I do appreciate your input. I'm not a farmer, so I have never been trained in the use of pesticides, nor am I a lawyer so I cannot give a legal interpretation of the statute. Again, the statute reads: "It shall be unlawful for any person to use any registered pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its labeling". I guess the question is then if an applicator applies a particular pesticide that uses the phrase "should...." under "Environmental Hazards" section is that a manner inconsistent with its labeling? I'm not completely sure. Any lawyers out there?

    This topic has prompted me to contact my local extension office. I have a call into them and I'll post their response to this forum.





  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Petersburg, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    16

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    We have a hive in our back yard this year, and I am concerned about the city fogging for mosquitos this year. They usually wait until dark to do this, we hope that the bees will not be effected by this.

    Do any of you know the effective range of the fogging?
    I realize wind can change this.
    How long does it remain active?

    Stephen - in Michigan

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
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    2,470

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    Surprising, my local extension agent was not well versed on pesticide application and the law. However, he was under the impression that farmer COULD apply a chemical known to kill honeybees at a time of known activity without violating federal law.

    I then called the Virginia Dept of Agriculture (Pesticide Services). They told me it’s all in the label. If the label uses terms like "should.." then it’s at the farmer's discretion, but if the label has terms like MUST or SHALL then it would be a violation of the law.

    Bottom line, to prove a violation would be difficult - for many reasons. It would be far better to simply develop a working relationship with the farmers in your area.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Maple Plain Minnesota
    Posts
    182

    Post

    Let me add my input to this discussion. I live on a farm. My son does the farming and he appreciates the avantages of having bees. He has to go to a "class"to be certfied to spray chemicals so he knows about the labels. Here in MN, the wind usually lets up inlate evening. That is when he does his spraying. Any farmer in this area could be aproched, in a friendly way, like with a jar of honey, and asked to only spray late in the evening when in the area of your hives. Farmers are very enviormently aware nowadays and willing to cooperate.

    Be sure to include the neighbor with a few apple trees. That includes me.

    I will continue to watch this post.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    5,749

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    I'm sorry to hear about your spray damage to your hives. But you must understand that they must spray their crop to control their pests. If not done, insects could make devistating damages, which could be the difference between proft making or bankruptcy. I know because I am faced with the same tough dicissions as they make when farming my land.
    I do think though the crop farmer must respect our beekeeping industry aswell. I think so many of them don't understand the devistation they cause from their insectisidal spraying. I also think that so many of them don't know we are even in the area. It is our job as a beekeeper to educate them and be sure they know we are in their area. I think with a little education, and communication, alot of problems can be avoided.
    Most people don't want to harm anothers business operations. So that means you also have to accept the farmers NEED to spray and deal with it.
    I do..

    Ian


  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Usually if the farmer will give you warning you can close up the hives for the day (you should have some screen wire closures for ventilation) and it will minimize losses.

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