Sprays worry our beekeepers

BEEKEEPERS using the Alstonville district's rich source of pollen to feed their hives are worried that sprays harmful to European honey bees are being deployed during flowering time in a fight against lace bug.

Broadwater apiarist Alistair Maloney said the relationship between beekeepers and plateau orchardists was a healthy one, and should continue.

While macadamia trees pollinate each other mostly by the wind, there is scientific evidence that says honey bees increase macadamia nut set by 15%-20%. In turn, the plentiful pollen and nectar swells hive health and bee population ahead of future honey flows.

ON THE JOB: Using smoke to subdue his bees, Broadwater apiarist Alistair Maloney works a hive.
ON THE JOB: Using smoke to subdue his bees, Broadwater apiarist Alistair Maloney works a hive. JERAD WILLIAMS

Alistair said western NSW and Queensland apiarists had travelled to the Northern Rivers because dry conditions had failed the flowering in their area, so the district was awash with the soldiers of the Australian pollination brigade.

"We have a good relationship with our orchardists," Alistair said.

"We want to grow that relationship. It creates a mutual benefit that is deeply appreciated by beekeepers."

However, the recommendation by some agronomists to spray for damaging lace bug with residual pesticides like Gusathion, Diazinon or Bulldox during flowering period was a real worry for a bee population already at risk from threats like hive beetle.

"These high residual sprays could cause devastation to the bee population of each hive, resulting in the loss of honey production for months," Alistair said.

"We understand the importance of fighting the lace bug problem but we prefer they use Lepidex 500, which if sprayed in the late afternoon and evening will have no residual effect come morning."

Because bees know no boundaries, they are prone to spray impacts from farms a few kilometres away from where their hive is located.

The Alstonville plateau is an excellent source of food for honey bees, with other fruiting trees like avocados providing a pollen rich in protein. So, too, the native rainforest pittosporum tree.

"All bees, both the honey bee and native bee, can assist in giving a bigger and better nut harvest," Alistair said.

"With everyone working together, both macadamia and bee farmers can benefit."

Topics:  bees pesticides

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