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Stop Killing Our Bees

28 October 2004

Stop Killing Our Bees

Better communication among orchardists will help stop an epidemic of bee deaths in pip fruit areas of New Zealand, said Milton Jackson, Chairman of the New Zealand Bee Industry Group (NZBIG).

Mr Jackson said that hives are losing 60% to 80% of their field bees because some orchardists are not communicating to others that they have sprayed carbaryl insecticide on their trees.

Carbaryl is used to control codling moth and as a thinning agent for unwanted apples. It is illegal to use the spray on trees still in flower.

"The problem is of particular concern in the Hawke's Bay, Bay of Plenty and Nelson regions, the main pipfruit growing areas," Mr Jackson said. "Bees brought in to pollinate an unsprayed orchard often fly to neighbouring orchards which have recently been sprayed."

"Bee losses due to carbaryl poisoning have been a problem for many years, but it has affected hives more seriously this year. Hives have been weakened due to the varroa bee mite.

"Bees dying because a neighbour has sprayed trees is not only disheartening but can be the cause of unset or deformed fruit, meaning lower yields and less profit for orchardists.

"Orchardists must communicate with their neighbours -- he or she is only a phone call away. Unfortunately we can’t fence our bees in. They will fly up to three kilometres from the hive to find nectar.

"We have five commercial pollinators in Hawke's Bay and most are becoming disillusioned with the continued poisoning and at least two are thinking seriously of not pollinating next year. Bees are essential to horticulture. Fewer bees means less pollination and less fruit, sucking money out of the economy," Mr Jackson said.

The New Zealand Bee Industry Group is part of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).


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