Two large bee poisoning incidents in NSW in 2013 came to the attention of the APVMA.
In the first incident, more than 400 hives situated in three apiaries south of Darlington Point on the Murrumbidgee River in southern NSW were killed in early February 2013. The bee kills followed shortly after aerial pesticide application on nearby cotton crops.
The NSW Environment Protection Agency (NSW EPA) advised the APVMA that bees from all six sites where dead/dying bees were found had fipronil detections while clothianidin, a neonicotinoid, was only detected in bees from three of the six sites. Taking into account spraying dates, which chemicals were sprayed, and wind direction at the time of spraying, it appears that the bees were more likely to have been poisoned by foraging in the sprayed crops rather than the hives being directly impacted by spray drift. [Note that a clothianidin product is approved as a foliar spray in cotton in Australia but there are currently no clothianidin-based seed treatments in this country, so the detection of clothianidin, if it came from foraging on cotton, was from a foliarly-applied spray, not a systemic residue arising from cotton seed treatment.]