2016 March: Tens of Thousands of Dead Bees (Killarney Victoria). Pesticide: Fipronil

Insecticide devastates beehives

March 14 2016


CHELSEA Fox and her family love honey and have four beehives on their Killarney property.

She knows that local farmers need to control crickets and locusts but wishes they could use alternatives to the insecticide that recently killed tens of thousands of bees from her hives.

Ms Fox said she first noticed hundreds of dead bees on March 3 around a hive they had commandeered in a shed behind her home.

She later found thousands more mortalities around three other hives she keeps along the fenceline of the family’s rural property and thousands more died in the ensuing days.

“I was devastated to find out that the cause of the death of my bees was due to agricultural spray that is used to control locust and crickets.

“The key ingredient is fipronil and it is highly toxic to bees and a range of other insects and fish.

“A lot of farmers I know choose not to use it and make responsible choices with their chemical use,” Ms Fox said.

“The death caused by this chemical is very slow.

“Each day I have been sweeping up thousands of new dead bees and it’s quite heartbreaking for our whole family to see all our hives slowly dying,” she said.

Ms Fox said it was difficult to determine where the chemical was sprayed because bees foraged for up to a 10 kilometre radius. She said she did not want to assign blame to anyone over the deaths.

However she had gone public with the incident in the hope it would raise awareness about the harmful non-target effects of the insecticide. She is also sending a letter to farmers near her property alerting them to the effects of fipronil on bees.

Government specialists in agricultural chemicals have told her there were a range of options available to farmers to control locusts and crickets that did not affect bees.

“If this type of devastation has happened to my four hives, imagine what it’s doing to bees on a wider scale,” Ms Fox said.

“We all know that bees are essential for pollinating agricultural crops as well as most of out fruits and vegetables that we eat,” she said.