How close to Row Crops can I be
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  1. #1

    Default How close to Row Crops can I be

    Hello im a new beekeeper and have run into a small problem. I have heard that one of the main killer of bees is the chemicals that are sprayed over row crops, the only problem is where I live there is nothing but crop fields for 45 minutes in any direction. we have a small 5 acre plot of woods in the middle of a lot of corn and soybean fields. my question is, if I put my beehives in that 5 acres of woods, would that mean certain death for my bees or could they manage to stay alive being that close to the fields even when they are being sprayed. I am very limited to my options on where to put my hives and this is about the only option I have other than putting my hives an hour and half away which I just don't believe I would be able to give them enough attention being that far away. thanks for your time!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    Northern Il, USA
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    Default Re: How close to Row Crops can I be

    Depends a bit on what crops. Cotton, for example is sprayed a lot more than corn or beans. I keep bees near corn and bean fields and have had no problems. Personally, I wouldn't worry if they were 20 feet from crops.
    Do you have to opportunity to ask the landowner when the crops will be sprayed? You can just close up the hive for a day.

    It's an exaggeration to say that farming insecticides are a main killer of bees. More of an occasional problem. Bee diseases and pests are a much bigger problem. Plan in advance of buying the bees how you will handle varroa mites, which are a huge problem.

    It would be helpful if you added your location to your profile. Then people who live in your region can give more specific advice.

  4. #3
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    Dec 2017
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    Wharton, Texas, USA
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    You don’t have to worry about it. What’s your other option no bees? I have mine by cotton they do fine. The only time the bees will be out there foraging is when they bloom. In most cases the concentrations are maybe strong enough to kill the bees directly sprayed but not enough to kill a whole hive.

  5. #4
    Join Date
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    Covington County, Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: How close to Row Crops can I be

    Quote Originally Posted by AR1 View Post
    It's an exaggeration to say that farming insecticides are a main killer of bees. More of an occasional problem. Bee diseases and pests are a much bigger problem. Plan in advance of buying the bees how you will handle varroa mites, which are a huge problem.
    A truer statement could not be made. It is a gross exaggeration and a popular red herring of beekeepers. Yes, pesticide kills happen, but so do bear attacks and floods, tornadoes and hurricanes.

    Since 2015, I have kept bees on cotton, peanuts and in pecan orchards in multiple locations. My hives literally line the margins of these fields. I have never had an issue. That does not mean that I never will. Sometime later this month or early March, the farmer will bring in tractor truck loads of glyphosate and spray those fields with large booms that will swing within 10 feet of my hives. Then, at least on the cotton fields, he will plant a strain of Round-Up Ready BT Cotton neonicitinoid-coated seed. Just before bloom, if it is indicated, he may supplement the pesticide in bad years of infestation. In the fall, he will spray a defoliant to help him gather his crop. And next spring, he will do it all over again. And my bees will still be there.

    Because I work like hell to keep the mites off of them.

  6. #5
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    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: How close to Row Crops can I be

    Row crops here too. Corn, wheat, soybeans, repeat. Your location may not make for the best honey flow, and you may need to feed in the fall, but the chems used on the corn and beans will not have a significant impact on your hives, with the exception of Lambda-c which is used to control the worms on corn and mites on cotton. Applied only once per season, it would be a good day to keep the girls home.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyhalothrin
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  7. #6

    Default

    Awesome! Thank y’all so much, I have been stressing about this for awhile I guess for no huge reason haha. Thanks for the replys

  8. #7
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    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    Default Re: How close to Row Crops can I be

    Personally, I would be more concerned about the combs and honey. In other words, human health,not the bees. J

  9. #8
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    Default Re: How close to Row Crops can I be

    Quote Originally Posted by Fivej View Post
    Personally, I would be more concerned about the combs and honey. In other words, human health,not the bees. J
    The irony in this is that the peanut farmer that allows me to surround his field in colonies grows peanuts for a local Coop buyer who has a contract with Mars. The peanuts are harvested and hauled 20 miles to the Coop who runs them through an industrial sheller and then over to an industrial dryer. Those peanuts are then loaded into a box car on the railroad spur beside the Coop dryer and sent to Mars, where they are then placed in Snickers bars and distributed around the world and consumed by millions of children.

    So you have to ask the question, if I am concerned about ingesting pesticides, where should my concern start and where should it end? What do we consume that is not exposed? Corn or a corn byproduct is in almost everything we consume.

    I was reading a study last night about some findings on chemical residues in wax. The study found a mean of 2.9 nanograms of one of the neonics (clothianidin, maybe?) per gram of wax. I started trying to conceptualize that number. I suck at math, but 3 nanograms of pesticide to 1 gram of wax is basically 3 parts per billion, isn't it? How many grams of wax would I have to have to equal 1 gram of pesticide? My rough calculations are that 100 TONS of Beeswax would render 1/4 gram of pesticide. That is roughly the weight of 1/8th of a teaspoon of sugar to the weight of a blue whale.

    Just because we now have instruments sensitive enough to measure to PPB, doesn't mean that PPB are necessarily relevant.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: How close to Row Crops can I be

    PSM. Realistically, you can only control what you can control. For example, honey that you make. As far as the small amount of chemicals something may contain before it harms you, we really do not know. But we do know that small amounts can have big effects. A milligram of Fentanyl will kill someone. What we really do not know is the combined effect of different chemicals and what harm they cause. Industrial chemicals do not even have to be tested and approved before they are put on the market. So control what you can. J

  11. #10
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    Default Re: How close to Row Crops can I be

    Motoring down the highway exposes you to all kinds of chemical dust and vapors from fuel burned, tire and road dust, plastic particles, brake friction materials and on and on, besides the collision risks. Many of our common consumer products and processes have measurable mortality risks. Bacon oh my! Alcohol, sunshine etc.

    You could immobilize yourself with fear. Even many known risks may not, in the big picture, be worth worrying about. We just have to select our priorities about what we choose to worry about.

    Moderation, and dont sleep on railroad tracks!
    Frank

  12. #11
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    Default Re: How close to Row Crops can I be

    Quote Originally Posted by psm1212 View Post
    That is roughly the weight of 1/8th of a teaspoon of sugar to the weight of a blue whale.

    Just because we now have instruments sensitive enough to measure to PPB, doesn't mean that PPB are necessarily relevant.
    Since I've (and perhaps many others here) never seen a blue whale perhaps the following might be helpful:

    There are lots of publications discussing Clothianidin and health. In one publication I see: Chronic RfD = 0.0098 mg/kg/day (RfD = reference dose). Let's assume the average woman weighs 70 Kg, then that would suggest that about 0.7 mg/day (0.0007 g/day) is equal the above Chronic dose. (source: https://www3.epa.gov/pesticides/chem..._30-May-03.pdf)

    How much is in honey?

    The total concentration of the five measured neonicotinoids was, on average, 1.8 ng/g in positive (i.e., contaminated) samples and reached a maximum of 56 ng/g over all positive samples (source: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6359/109)

    How much honey would need to be consumed to reach the RfD:

    Max allowable honey consumption per day (70 Kg woman) using worst case concentration: 700,000 ng/day=(56 ng/g)*X g/day; solving for X gives: X=12500 g/day=27.5 lb of honey/day

    Max allowable honey consumption per day (70 Kg woman) using average concentration: 700,000 ng/day=(1.8 ng/g)*X g/day; solving for X gives: X=388889 g/day=857 lb of honey/day

    Still worried?
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  13. #12
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    Default Re: How close to Row Crops can I be

    My father the farmer who used chemicals because that was the way to reliably get a crop, said this to those who railed at all use of chemicals and supposed polluting use of fuel: May they starve to death in a cave, in the dark!

  14. #13
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    Default Re: How close to Row Crops can I be

    I am in mid Missouri. most of the fields have the big 3, corn, beans or winter wheat. I was concerned about drift when I started out. I have never had any problems though. But to double secure my worries I've started to keep all of my out yards next to hay fields or pastures. I have a rancher that wants me to keep some colonies next to his cattle pasture. He said he over seeded clover in that field last year so I'm looking forward to seeing what those hives do. To be clear, I'll keep the colonies next to the trees that are around the creek. If you have the same type of terrain you might try that.

    By the way he got in touch with me. I've found that most people that keep cattle are easy to get along with and are happy to work with you. So look near your creeks to see if you have any good sites.

  15. #14
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    Bellflower,Montgomery County, Mo
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    Default Re: How close to Row Crops can I be

    https://app.beescape.org/

    This is a site that I've started to use to look at potential sites without leaving the comfort of my office. I've found it helpful. I got it off of beesource just recently.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: How close to Row Crops can I be

    I have 2 suggestions:
    1) Read this carefully:
    https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/pnw591

    2) Make friends with your neighbor farmer.
    Let them know you aren't some radical, anti-everything radical and appreciate their hard work.
    Ask if you can get a heads-up as soon as insecticide applications are on the agenda.
    Ask what is going to be sprayed so you can know what steps need taken to protect your bees.
    We have had VERY good luck with this approach.
    I have exactly ONE more hive than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond dispute!

  17. #16
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    Sep 2018
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    Default Re: How close to Row Crops can I be

    Quote Originally Posted by Carsonb99 View Post
    Hello im a new beekeeper and have run into a small problem. I have heard that one of the main killer of bees is the chemicals that are sprayed over row crops, the only problem is where I live there is nothing but crop fields for 45 minutes in any direction. we have a small 5 acre plot of woods in the middle of a lot of corn and soybean fields. my question is, if I put my beehives in that 5 acres of woods, would that mean certain death for my bees or could they manage to stay alive being that close to the fields even when they are being sprayed. I am very limited to my options on where to put my hives and this is about the only option I have other than putting my hives an hour and half away which I just don't believe I would be able to give them enough attention being that far away. thanks for your time!
    Hi Carson, For what it is worth My main yard is 4 hours away, IMO 1.5 is not a show stopper. IF you have 100% row crops then there will be times where there is very little for the bees to forage on. Other time a plethora of crop bloom. Have a close look if there is a 10 foot hedge row with trees and brush along the edges of the fields that is where the bees will find stuff to keep going. the thing to keep in mind is you may be feeding your honey to friends and family. are you comfortable with that. there is a such thing as a poor Apiary site. bees will go 2-3 miles 5 in a dearth. look around there, drive and walk around a bit. Ideally there is a strip,, power line,, creek bed or something that is not row crops. IF you are right and there is 95% plus row crops, IMO I would not want to eat that honey. Can you have bees likely yes, should you would be up to you. Maybe combo it,, put a couple production hives at the 1.5 hour place ,to eat from. And your play hives, splits, breeding NUCs at the close place. I am not sure I would want the GMO/Sprayed honey ,nectar, pollen from row crop areas. Others may have a higher tolerance for contaminants. What is yours is the question here.

  18. #17
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    Mar 2020
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    Madison Co., Illinois
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    Default Re: How close to Row Crops can I be

    This is a timely post for me....I will be establishing my first hives this spring and am literally surrounded by row crops...corn & soy beans. I was considering a screen room to surround my hives when I know the fields are sprayed. Sounds like it might be overkill and that I need to be more concerned with varroa mites.

  19. #18
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    Feb 2012
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    Fayette County,Indiana
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    5

    Default Re: How close to Row Crops can I be

    At present all of my yards are within 300 feet of row crops. Beans/Corn. My best yards are within 50 ft. The farmers I deal with are extremely cognizant of spray. They are more concerned about my bees than me. As you operate your hives watch carefully and make sure that when they enter a protein shortage, you bolster. make sure they have sealed honey at all times. Keep the mites in check. Enjoy.

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