Bee council warns crop chemicals could harm
CHEMICALS used to control aphids in canola crops could potentially damage the bee industry.
Attempts to control green peach aphid, which is believed to be causing the spread of the beet western yellows virus (BSYV) in canola crops in Victoria, South Australia and New SouthWales could potentially have a devastating impact on the Australian bee and pollination industry according to the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC).
While the council said it understands the need to control the pest in canola crops it is concerned to hear reports that some products being used to combat the aphid contain theactiveimidacloprid–asystemic neonicotinoid chemical.
AHBIC chairman Ian Zadow said that while the council is told these products control the aphid and are safe for the crop, they will devastate any bees and beehives foraging on that canola.
“In addition, some of these productsarenotregisteredforfoliar application in canola according to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
“Foliar-spraying these products on canola are extremely hazardous to any foraging insect, even if sprayed well before flowering – bees located up to seven kilometres from a treated paddock could still be at risk.
“The immediate concern is the effect on other pollination-reliant crops,” Mr Zadow said.
“Alarminglywe’veheardreports that this practice has occurred within flight range of almond properties where beehives are expected to arrive within days.”
The AHBIC is calling for growers and agronomists that have used these products to ensure that any beehive owners within a seven kilometreradiushavebeennotified.
The council also is urging neighboring landholders who currently have, or will soon have beehives on their properties to have open lines of communication.
“Unfortunately this practice has the potential to decimate hives that visit treated crops, causing acute financial losses to both the apiary and pollination-reliant industries,” Mr Zadow said.
“WhileAHBICisnotadvocating a no-treatment policy of the aphids, it is aware of products available containing the active ingredient sulfoxaflor that are registered for this specific use.
“Whilst sulfoxaflor is part of the neonicotinoid family, it is a newly registered compound and much softer on non-target insects once it dries.
“The most important thing here is for open lines of communication about the impact certain chemicals can have on our industry,” he said.
Meanwhile,accordingtoarecent surveyconductedbyTQAAustralia on behalf of the Federal Government’s Pollination Program, the majority of blueberry, apple and cherry growers believe the quality and quantity of their crops will be significantly affected if the honey bees they rely on for pollination are struck down by the Varroa mite.
WithAustraliacurrentlytheonly continent free of the Varroa mite, growerswereaskedabouttheirpollination practices as part of efforts to prepare for the likely arrival of the devastating pest.
TQA Australia’s Mark Leech said growers are extremely reliant on feral honey bee populations and take advantage of them by using the minimum number of managed honey bee colonies when feral bee populations are known to exist.
“Experience from overseas shows us that the arrival of Varroa willpracticallywipeoutferalhoney bees and have a major impact on managed hives.
“This means free pollination services will practically disappear.
“Australian’s bee population has no natural resistance to Varroa destructor and unless we remain vigilant in the fight against pest incursions we will have a serious problem on our hands,” Mr Leech said.
He said that growers need to develop relationships now with beekeepers to help put them “at the top of the list” for the limited services likely to be available.
The survey showed that more than half of growers surveyed believed that the quantity of their cropwouldbesignificantlyaffected and more than 70 per cent believed thequalitywouldbeseriouslycompromised if there was a shortage of honey bees.
ThePollinationProgramwilluse the results to continue its preparation for the management of Varroa if the mite becomes established in Australia.
BEE WARNED: Aphids and Varroa mite continue to threaten the bee industry.