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A small garden can also become a bee graveyard

No bee-friendly pesticides, only bee-friendly use. Insects that fly in the hinged compound’s liquid mist cloud die almost instantly. The life of pollinators depends on farmers carrying out plant protection work in accordance with the regulations in a timely manner and with proper care.

The extinction of so-called pollinating insects is a growing problem worldwide: in China, for example, there are already areas where farmers themselves would manually shake their crops if they wanted a crop. In Hungary, pollinators are almost exclusively insects, and although we can still call the species richness relatively good, we also face problems – we’ve written about them in more detail here.

There are several thousand species, but the brigade of work is done by bees. 700 wild species are native to Hungary, but due to their numbers, the biggest role is played by the western house bees, also known as honeybees. The destruction of pollinators results from many harmful effects of human activity. Plant protection products used specifically for honey bees, for example in agriculture or even small gardens, pose a serious threat.

Although the weather had not clearly made its voice for spring, nature had already blossomed, and bees appeared. In mid-March, we wrote about the winter activity of bees, their “awakening”, and the dangers posed by the increasingly severe weather with the help of an environmental researcher, and now, in the middle of the spring garden work, we are approaching plant protection.

Peter Toth A qualified agricultural engineer in plant protection and beekeeper Hungarian National Beekeeping Association (OMME) We asked the expert advisor in Veszprém County about the threat to bees from certain chemicals and how we can grow in a bee-friendly way, even in small gardens.

Cases of poisoning are not usually reported

Let’s start by saying that the harm caused by pesticides is not fully known nationally, even to the bees that live in the immediate vicinity of humans. According to the authority, the number of reported cases of bee poisoning each year is around a hundred per year, but the number of reports OMME receives is higher.

Often the reason that testing and sampling is a time-consuming procedure is when a troubled beekeeper prefers to save his animals due to the fact of poisoning. In addition, the number of successfully detected cases is very small compared to the number of official investigations.

This means, unfortunately, that beekeepers do not trust the success of the survey either, but rather that they “swallow” the damage.

– says Peter Toth.

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Improper application and contamination

Poisoning is usually caused by improper (non-standard) spraying. Farmers master the rules for the correct use of materials in courses that provide different levels of training, but the qualifications obtained are not, of course, “eternal”. In order to re-validate the permits, it is necessary to participate in frequent training courses, as preparations in the plant protection profession change with the emergence of new pests, pathogens and weeds, and the rules regarding their use change from time to time.

There was also an example that use in accordance with regulations and permit documents caused a problem. Among the agents containing chlorpyrifos are those that the salad allowed to use even at the very beginning of the rapeseed flowering. Add to this the fact that this drug is toxic to bees for about 10 days, it is understood that the composition used according to these rules often causes poisoning. OMME has on several occasions succeeded in conducting a review of such licenses, and one of its results was, for example, the restriction of the use of substances containing active substances of the organophosphoric acid ester type in 2012 and the rationalization of their use.

Poisoning can also occur due to contamination of a harmless product with an active substance that is dangerous to bees as a result of a potential manufacturing defect. This was the case recently, when a fungicide contaminated with fipronil was commercialized, the damage value was in the range of nearly two hundred million.

Articulated compounds

Among the insecticides developed for home gardens, the authority has already “phased out” the most dangerous pesticides, such as the aforementioned chlorpyrifos. As a result of the withdrawal of the active substances, only pyrethroids remain in the hands of farmers, so the use of the substance becomes more monotonous. This will lead to the development of pest resistance, which farmers are already feeling their tangible signs.

Pyrethroids are rapidly degradable and degradable compounds, which means that insects that fly into the spray liquid cloud die almost instantly.

In the case of bees, no dead individuals were found around the hives or on the bottom panels, however, the number of bees suddenly decreased in the hives. For a long time, such cases were not even considered bee poisoning by experts in power, and the question of the investigation committee was resolved indefinitely. Fortunately, attitudes have changed dramatically today, and these are being investigated as well.

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DDT from grandpa

By the way, the problem with articular compounds is that they are difficult to detect due to their rapid decomposition, so the cause of poisoning is usually not established. On the other hand, their rapid decomposition allows bees and other beneficial insects to visit the safely sprayed flowers in the evening the following day. Of course, only if they are applied according to the rules of the bee rescue technique, that is:

They can be used after the bees’ active flight time, starting at one hour before astronomical sunset, and ending at 11pm.

Care should also be taken if the crop (such as fruit) is not flowering in the area to be sprayed, but the bushes are thriving. In this case, quickly degrading hinged compositions should also be used according to the above technology rules.

However, there are pesticides that have almost no time limit to apply, even during flowering, and they can be used during the day. It’s also important to know what fungicides we may combine with these: if certain fungicides deemed harmless are sprayed with the same insecticide deemed harmless, it could cause the user to die. The above evening spray is also mandatory for these groups.

Another big risk is the use of the “grandfather’s legacy”. This may be the reason that, in some cases, the effects of DDT-induced death in uterine carcasses can also be identified.

Often it does not reach the hive

As far as the classification of plant protection products is concerned, the term “bee-friendly plant protection product” exists at most in ordinary terms. When products are licensed, they are always tested for the substance’s effects on bees, which form the basis for the bee hazard rating for a particular substance. Accordingly, there are preparations that pose a specific or moderate risk to bees and are labeled “non-markable”. The latter does not have a fundamental impact on the life of bees, of course, let us not rule out that with the advancement of science, this classification will be changed by decision-makers, as we have seen in the case of DDT.

The effect of different factors on insects depends on many factors. If the bee is filled with spray liquid, it often does not reach the beehives, otherwise the bees flying over the edge of the spray cloud will only be stunned, crawling on the ground without advice, or directing themselves. In such cases it is not certain that we will find carcasses in front of the hives, and the beekeeper is only faced with the fact that the hives are empty of inhabitants for no reason.

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The assessment of the damage is also complicated by the fact that in many cases families do not die as a result of poisoning, and at the same time the loss of the age group participating in the collection is accompanied by a decrease in the yield.

Giorgi Varga / MTI

Use a bee-friendly material

We can help a lot with the situation, for example, if we really only spray insecticides after sunset, but remember: even today, there are long-acting agents that do not degrade in the morning and even harm bees in days. Whether it is a small garden behind the house or a farm of several acres, now, during the period of fruit blooming, the greatest damage can be caused by the incorrect use of pesticides.

Avoid using substances that are particularly dangerous to bees, and they are prohibited from using them in flowering crops or for any reason.

– The expert responds on how to make agriculture more “bee-friendly” in the use of chemicals.

Apply moderate risk factors to bees, especially in the form of an evening spray, and it is okay to not put the markings until evening. A wise farmer tries to make the area clear of weeds by using some agricultural solutions before spraying. Essentially success depends on the professional knowledge and intelligence of the drug users, because there is a solution to everything, just make sure we don’t harm the other farmer (like the beekeeper).

Nowadays, it is necessary for farmers to employ a highly qualified plant protection specialist, his recommendations should always be followed, and at the same time the fact should always be taken into account that due to the high density of bees in Hungary, the presence of bees should always be counted.

Peter Toth advises owners of small gardens to reduce pesticide-based interventions, preferring to plant varieties that are resistant to disease and pests. Pruning, cutting the buds and branches, and burning the affected parts can greatly help in caring for your plants. In the kitchen garden, we take advantage of the fact that some species of plants stimulate other people’s pests, and plant them next to each other.