Auck­land bee hives un­der threat

Central Leader - - LIFESTYLE & LEISURE - MEGHAN LAWRENCE

Auck­land res­i­dents are ques­tion­ing the sud­den death of sev­eral back­yard bee colonies in the re­gion.

Around 200,000 bees, from hives in How­ick and Botany, have met an un­timely death that is sur­rounded by sus­pi­cion and un­ex­plained cir­cum­stances.

John and Sarah Cham­pion, of Mel­lons Bay, have kept bees for nearly five years but re­cently no­ticed some­thing was wrong with their two hives.

‘‘Last week we no­ticed the bees were crawl­ing around on the ground,’’ John said.

‘‘We as­sumed they were old ones which had gone out to die, but in the fol­low­ing days we no­ticed that noth­ing was hap­pen­ing in the hive, so we phoned our bee­keeper and said we had a prob­lem.’’

Claire Nay­lor was hav­ing a sim­i­lar prob­lem at her Botany prop­erty.

Reg­is­tered bee­keeper Ibrahim Mo­hammed was called to both prop­er­ties and was shocked at what he found.

‘‘It’s ba­si­cally like ev­ery­thing was work­ing fine and then all of a sud­den some­thing hap­pened and there was no ac­tiv­ity at all.’’

Mo­hammed be­lieves the sud­den deaths could pos­si­bly be at­trib­uted to coun­cil-con­tracted spray­ing of nox­ious weeds.

The Auck­land Coun­cil’s head of H&S qual­ity as­sur­ance and en­vi­ron­ment, Mike Tucker, says its con­trac­tors spot-ap­ply her­bi­cides as a form of pest plant con­trol in Auck­land

‘‘The her­bi­cides used for work in this area are all ap­proved by the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Author­ity [EPA] and are not recog­nised as be­ing toxic to bees,’’ he said.

The con­trac­tor work­ing within South-East Auck­land is Downer and the EPA-ap­proved her­bi­cide its uses is glyphosate, he said.

Peter Alexan­der, chief ex­ec­u­tive of bee­hive man­age­ment ser­vice BeezThingz, said he has re­ceived at least 10 re­ports of bees dy­ing in Auck­land this sea­son.

He said glyphosate alone isn’t the prob­lem, but sus­pects a lethal com­bi­na­tion of her­bi­cide, pes­ti­cide and fungi­cide could be to blame.

‘‘If glyphosate is sprayed on its own, on to some­thing that isn’t flow­er­ing, then it makes no dif­fer­ence to the bees.

‘‘But if you spray an in­sec­ti­cide mixed into the glyphosate, and onto plants that are flow­er­ing, then you will kill the bees.’’

Ibrahim Mo­hammed is a reg­is­tered bee­keeper and was first to in­spect the poi­soned hives.

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