Fungicides in flowering orchards after recent rain?

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3
2
Hawkes Bay
Experience
Researcher
Here in Hawke's Bay we had heavy rain last month followed by active spraying. My bumblebee colonies are in flying distance of apple orchards on the edge of Hastings, and have had significant brood mortality. My understanding is that some fungicides are bad for bees, but am not sure where to start enquiring what might have been sprayed. Do local beekeepers have information on this?
 

Alastair

Founder Member
Platinum
8,508
9,745
Auckland
Experience
Semi Commercial
Apple flowering should have been well over by the time frame you suggest. However bees can still be exposed to sprays used if they are visiting flowering weeds below the trees and spray drifts onto them.
Orchards where I have bees the orchardist does not spray when the trees are in flower, plus mows under the trees which keeps flowers under the trees to a minimum. So although my heart is sometimes in my mouth when I see the misting machine driving around, no perceptible harm seems to result.
Some fungicides are harmful to bees, some are not.
There is only one place you can enquire what sprays were used, and that would be the orchardist.
Here is an easy read article about the effects of fungicides on bees

 
308
410
Bay of Plenty
Experience
Commercial
I have found a legal notice about not spraying plants when they are in flower or part flower:



It is on page 37 (section 58) of the Hazardous substances (Hazardous Property Controls) Notice 2017. The link to this notice is below:



https://www.epa.govt.nz/assets/Uplo...s_Hazardous_Property_Controls_Notice_2017.pdf



This notice is issued by the Environmental Protection Authority (the Authority) under sections 75 and 76 of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (the Act). It is issued in accordance with section 76C of the Act, having had regard to the matters specified in section 76C(2).



The objective of this notice:

This notice prescribes requirements to ensure that hazardous substances are stored and used in a manner that protects the environment, and people in places other than workplaces to which the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 applies.



Excerpt of Section 58 of the notice:



58. Protection of invertebrate pollinators



(1) This clause applies to an agrichemical that is applied to a plant if the agrichemical—

(a) has the hazard classification hazardous to terrestrial invertebrates; and

(b) is in a form that non-target invertebrate pollinators are likely to be exposed to either during, or after, its application.



(2) A person who applies the agrichemical must ensure the application plot does not include any—

(a) bees that are foraging; or

(b) plants (including trees and weeds) that—

(i) are likely to be visited by non-target invertebrate pollinators; and

(ii) are either—

(A) in flower or part flower; or

(B) likely to flower within the period specified by the Authority as an additional control for the substance.

(3) Subclause (2) does not apply if the application plot is indoors, and the agrichemical is contained within the facility.



(4) In this clause, invertebrate pollinator means an invertebrate agent that moves pollen from the male anthers of a flower to the female stigma of a flower, including (without limitation): bees, pollen wasps, ants, hoverflies, butterflies, moths and flower beetles.
 
308
410
Bay of Plenty
Experience
Commercial
That's what the law says; trying to get compensation if you think the spray is the cause is a different story, and most likely not worth your time and money. the best approach is to take some honey around to your neighbours and let them know you have bees and can we have discussions before they spray so a plan can be decided on?
 

Otto

Gold
106
242
Dunedin
Experience
Semi Commercial
@npomeroy
Talking to orchardists is likely the best way to learn what they are spraying. Are there also nearby beekeepers (of honeybees) that you can check with to see if they have seen similar effects in their honeybee colonies? It may be really important to find out as the effects you are seeing in your bumblebees may mean that there is something they are much more sensitive to than honeybees.

Of course, It is also possible that the spraying you have seen is not actually the cause of mortality in your bumblebees and there is something else happening you are unaware of.

I hope you can find some answers that can help you make sense of it.
 
3
2
Hawkes Bay
Experience
Researcher
Thanks for the feedback all.

It was a bit of a long shot asking here, and I feel a bit of an interloper because I only work with bumblebees. There are several orchards nearby and figuring out who to ask is not obvious, and they may not be forthcoming if there was anything dodgy. I just thought one of the local beekeepers might be familiar with typical spray programmes here. It's not a compensation issue. In my retirement I'm writing a book about my career with bumblebees and an inside tell-all about the industry. I happen to be keeping four free foraging colonies in observation hives to get photos and some more data for my writing. There was a lot of helicopter spraying at the end of our street after heavy rain and it was some time later I noticed the colonies looking crappy, so I can't even pinpoint the date of spraying.
I have access to the info you sent Alistair and Dennis, and am aware some fungicides can have sublethal effects on bees and can even have a synergistic level of harm in combination with Nosema. As fungicides are often assumed to be harmless to bees I wouldn't be surprised if they were sometimes used during flowering. And then there's the issue of drift onto garden and weed flowers.

I may chase up someone from the apple industry locally.
 
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