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2601Re: Field margins - agricultural practices and bee populations

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  • pollinator2001
    Feb 14, 2013
      --- In beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com, "saraguitiprado" wrote:
      > Hi Everyone,
      > I'm curious to see if anyone knows of any studies where the three way interaction between field margins, agricultural practices (i.e. chemicals, tilling, etc) and bee abundance and diversity has been assessed.
      > Are the bees foraging/living in the field margins still affected by agricultural practices? or is the field margin a complete refuge? Is the bee abundance and diversity found in the field margin as high as it could be, or is it not able to reach its maximum because of potential negative effects of chemical drift, tilling, etc.?

      Honey bees are an indicator of what happens, and wild bees would be similarly affected, likely quite a bit worse. And I've seen many a pile of dead bees when pesticides were misused in agriculture (and in public spraying as well. I've also seen hives that were suddenly decimated and weak, because foragers did not even make it home.

      The biggest problem is not chemical drift, as you suggest, but contamination of blossoms that bees are visiting, or the contamination of the bees as they visit. Label directions of pesticides that are toxic to bees have specific directions not to apply when bees are visiting, but this is frequently ignored.

      In fact many pesticide advisors tell applicators that they can shift the responsibility for bee protection to beekeepers, by notifying them to protect their bees. This, of course is illegal (advising use not in accord with the label is a violation, just as actually doing it) but again there is little push to get any implementation of the actual label.

      Label violations, even with beekeeper notification schemes, give NO protection to wild bees or even feral honey bees, or bees where the beekeeper has a job and can't tell his employer he's got to stay home to "protect his bees."

      There is a flow chart to simplify label directions at: http://pollinator.com/pesticides/flowchart.htm

      I have additional comments at this blog post: http://pollinator.info/blog/?p=198

      I did a personal, practical study on the effects of normal insecticide use in apple orchards by keeping a couple pallets of hives IN the orchard throughout the spray season. We were careful to mow all blossoms in the understory, and did all our insecticide spraying at night. The hives did not have detectable losses, even while other hives a half mile to a mile away from other orchards that did not take similar care, had some severe losses.

      This may not fully answer your question, but I hope it helps.

      Retired pollination contractor
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