Bee coun­cil warns crop chem­i­cals could harm

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - News -

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.

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