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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Greenwood, Ms
    Posts
    4

    Default Question on pollution from pesticides.

    Hello everyone,

    I live in the Mississippi Delta and have taken up an interest in beekeeping. Since the delta is such a big agricultural area I have a question concerning pesticides. Before I go any further you should know I live right beside a cotton field. We routinely have crop-dusters/tractors spraying the field with herbicides, pesticides, and defoliant. Since I'm in a close proximity to these toxins would that prevent me from keeping a bee colony? Would it harm the bees? Lastly, if I could raise the bees, would their honey be safe to eat or would the bees incidentally transfer the toxins into the honey? Thanks in advance!

    God Bless,
    guitarguy

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Cashmere, WA, USA
    Posts
    158

    Default Re: Question on pollution from pesticides.

    It is difficult to know what the drift is like, but crop dusters are typically pretty bad. I also am not very familiar with what is being sprayed for cotton. Aside from drift landing on hives directly, the biggest concern would be drift landing on bee forage. Where do you see the likely areas where bees will be foraging and are these areas safe from drift? It is heartbreaking (and expensive) to see massive pesticide kills on your hives. However, bees are pretty resilient and can be safely kept in areas of intensive agriculture. Can you find a local beekeeper to discus these issues with? Alternatively, I see ads on Craigslist all time for beekeepers that are seeking agreements with landowners to keep bees on their property and visa versa. Maybe you can find somewhere less risky to place your hives.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Greenwood, Ms
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Question on pollution from pesticides.

    Firstly, thank you for your response and all the great tips Frosty

    The hive would only be a little over a hundred yards from the field being sprayed, so I'm not confident that it would be safe from all drift. However, the location the hive would be in is right next to some bushes with Honeysuckle vines growing all throughout, and those plants don't seem to be affected by the drift. So with the assumption that I could start a hive and the bees would live, my question then becomes would the honey be fit for consumption?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Grays Harbor County, Washington, USA
    Posts
    187

    Default Re: Question on pollution from pesticides.

    The large majority of sprayed pesticides are either fat-soluble or dissolved in oil-based carriers. This helps the pesticide to stick on the plant and spread over the surface of leaves, etc. As such, pesticides tend to collect in the oily parts of the plants including the pollen, but not so much in the nectar. Of course there are exceptions to everything, but all things considered, fewer pesticides are found in honey than are found in pollen and wax combs, including commercial foundation.

    I don't know how "friendly" your ag neighbors are, but you could ask to be informed of the spray schedule. There's a chance they already inform other beekeepers in your area. If you knew the schedule you could lock down your bees before spray day. I have an arrangement like that with my state department of natural resources.

    Frostygoat's suggestion is good too. But assuming you can keep your bees alive, I wouldn't worry too much about the honey. It's probably no worse than any other standard agricultural produce.
    Rusty
    http://www.honeybeesuite.com "A Better Way to Bee"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    854

    Default Re: Question on pollution from pesticides.

    Quote Originally Posted by guitarguy View Post
    The hive would only be a little over a hundred yards from the field being sprayed, so I'm not confident that it would be safe from all drift. However, the location the hive would be in is right next to some bushes with Honeysuckle vines growing all throughout, and those plants don't seem to be affected by the drift. So with the assumption that I could start a hive and the bees would live, my question then becomes would the honey be fit for consumption?
    One hundred plus yards from the field edge should be safe from drift/over-spray. The bigger problem is your bees aren't going to stay in the hive while there is spraying going on. In fact, they will probably be foraging over an 8000 acre area surrounding the hive.

    As far as the honey being safe for consumption, probably yes. Bees in urban settings are potentially exposed to as much, or more, pesticides as those in agricultural areas. Direct expose of bees to most insecticides is going to kill the bees, most likely before they make it back to the hive. Other pesticides may be brought back to the hive.

    There are very few apiaries in this country that have no potential exposure of the bees to pesticides. Potential exposure does not mean actual exposure.

    Then there is the whole question of detectable levels of pesticides and health impacting levels of pesticides. How safe is aspirin? How safe is Sevin insecticide? It actually takes a higher dose of Sevin to kill rats than aspirin. I'd have used a human example except I couldn't find a LD50 for Sevin for humans! (Anyone want to volunteer for a trial!!) I'd prefer neither were in my honey!

    Ultimately, we need to try and places hives where they have the least potential exposure to pesticides. Timing impacts potential exposure of bees to pesticides. Some pesticides have a very short half-life when exposed to sunlight. Some have a very long residual life/activity. Contact local landowners, farmers and/or county extension agents to find out what you need to worry about in your area.

    Tom

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