Pesticides and insecticides have been indicated as major factors contributing to the decline of the honey bee colonies. The effects of pesticides on exposed pollinators are extremely harmful, but also honey bee habitats are in great danger once they are exposed to the toxicity of pesticides.
Our mission is to help beekeepers manage pesticide and insecticides exposure rapidly and efficiently, so as to minimize its negative impact on the health of bee colonies. We have a responsibility when it comes to educating beekeepers and raising awareness about pesticides’ impact and the preventive measures that can be taken to protect the bees.
Besides our best practices, further detailed below, our Apiary Book Report feature has been specifically created to report and alert nearby beekeepers of incidents such as pesticides or insecticides used for crops, invasion from pests, mites, disease, and other possible bee health threats.
The effects of pesticides exposure on honey bee colonies
Many pesticides, among which insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides have a negative impact on pollinators. They are applied as sprays over the soil. One droplet of insecticide may be enough to kill a bee due to the high levels of toxicity. While unwanted pests are being destroyed with the help of pesticides and undesirable insects with the help of insecticides, honey bees are the ones who will suffer.
Most of the times, bees are exposed to pesticides after ingesting the residues from the pollen and nectar of contaminated plants. The gathered residues are taken by forager bees inside their colonies. Once this happens, not only the forager bees get affected, but also the larvae and the queen.
Each kind of pesticide has its own level of toxicity. For example, when bees get in contact with sublethal doses of neurotoxic insecticides, they can experience stress, paralysis, or abnormal behaviours, like strange aggressiveness and confusion. They start to fight at the hive entrance, not being able to recognize the nestmates. Honey bee larvae contaminated with chlorpyrifos will produce very few queens. Sublethal doses of neonicotinoid insecticides will affect forager bees by causing disorientation and memory loss.
Furthermore, exposure to insecticides can negatively affect the bees’ immune system. Consequently, they become weaker to the impact of parasites and disease infections.
The way bees behave when they get in contact with the acute toxicity of pesticides is very upsetting. Poisoned adult bees may experience symptoms such as paralysis, flying or crawling difficulties, lying on the ground. The range of effects include agitation, wing paralysis, arching of the abdomen, vomiting.
The bees that survive will take out the hive, the dead adults and broods. That is an important suggestive sign that there’s a problem. When a colony suffers a death of 100 adults per day, that is a normal rate. However, if the beekeeper notices more than 200-400 dead bees, we recommend that beekeepers should do a toxicological analysis in order to detect the pesticides’ impact.
Protect your bees with the help of Apiary Book Report
You probably know that our main purpose is to offer beekeepers the best solutions to take better care of their bees. In the fight against the chemical factors, we have designed a tool that aims towards protecting your bee colonies.
Apiary Book Report is an important ally for managing the exposure to pesticides and insecticides, considering how critical it is to reduce the threatening effects on honey bee colonies as soon as possible.
Apiary Book Report’s mission is to help beekeepers minimize their colony losses caused by pests, diseases and pesticides. So, if you have the app downloaded on your phone, use the Report tool to report any incidents, and make sure to get a PRO subscription, so that you will also have access to alerts and notifications from other nearby beekeepers.
We wanted to create a valuable tool that connects beekeepers with farmers and local authorities. Becoming aware of the threats, beekeepers and farmers will be able to draw certain management plans that will eventually minimize the risks.
For example, you will be able to report incidents affecting your apiary like total bee colony loss caused by hurricane. In the report, you will have the possibility to choose the category of incidents, location and the description of the problem – “Hurricane induced storms destroyed hives = Total loss”
What if an Asian giant hornet, a 2-inch menace that feasts on honeybees, has invaded Washington State? The possible sighting of the invasive species will need to be reported in the app. Thus, the early detection will prevent the possible risks on bee colonies health.
At Apiary Book we see beekeepers as the first line of defense in the mission to protect our planet’s bees.
What can we do to protect our bees against pesticides?
As beekeepers, we all know not to place our apiary close to crops likely to be sprayed with an insecticide. However, if pest control measures taken near us carry unacceptable risks to our colonies, we should always be prepared to protect them. If the proper steps are taken, colonies exposed to pesticides may very well recover:
- If a honey bee colony has lost many of its foragers, but still has in store uncontaminated pollen and honey, it may recover without any intervention.
- If the chemical products applied have a short residual activity, simply confine your bees to their hives with a wet cloth. The confinement should be done only briefly in order to avoid overheating.
- If you notice that the brood and nurse bees continue dying, it indicates that the pesticides are present in the hive. You got to make sure that the combs are cleaned and removed, otherwise the colony will continue to die. The combs can be soaked in water for 24 hours. After that, cleanse the pollen from the cells and let the combs dry.
- Disrupt foraging activity temporarily by removing colony covers and offsetting boxes. Most bees will stay in the hive to maintain optimum humidity and temperature, but also to protect their stores. Not recommended if your bees are near the treated fields.
- Move your hives to another location at least 4 miles from the treated crops, preferably early in the morning when bees are least active.
- To become free poisoning, you can feed the colonies sugar syrup, pollen, and water. Make sure they are protected from heat or cold and provide them a pesticide-free area rich in natural nectar and pollen sources
- Solitary bee domiciles could be taken out of the area at night, when the females are resting in the tubes. They should be placed at a cool temperature until de danger has passed. After a while, they can be put back where they belong.
A lot of efforts go into protecting our bee colonies from the effects of pesticides. However, with the right tools and organized strategies, we can work all together to ensure the flowering habitat is buzzing with life.