Most of you newer and/or suburban beekeepers probably don’t have much direct experience with agricultural pesticide spraying, but it has been a significant threat to bees and beekeeping for a long time. This article about spraying appeared on Friday night and I commented while it was fresh. That generated a response from an applicator the next morning, and a comment from Minnesota beekeeper Jeff Anderson Sunday morning. Paul Hendricks of Englewood tried to comment, but his comments were not posted. Here they are:
I’m not comforted by any “professional” aerial applicator whose evaluation of his business is by a person with no skin in the game. Let Dr. Scott Bretthauer purchase 100 colonies at the market rate of $250 each and place by any field which Ag chemicals are constantly and incessantly applied and leave them there throughout an entire year; then pay for extensive necropsies of the hives which have failed (studies already done by other PhD’s) and he will have earned the right to speak. I have several decades of practical experience where only ground rigs were used and I learned that apiaries across the road from only ground rig spraying invariably experienced a constant diminution of their population. As a beekeeper with 36 years experience I can righteously assert that in all cases where Ag chemicals were used (there are other methods available which use no chemicals) my bee operation suffered irreparable uncompensated harm. I would like to reach out and strangle (generically speaking) PhDs who say “studies show,” when I can rightfully counter with “my experience is…”
Any assertions made that no harm was done cannot be ascertained the morning after a spray incident because the damage is often not evident until several months later when necropsies of the hive are done.
I successfully raised in the ballpark of 350 thousand pounds of honey before the sea of Ag chemicals overwhelmed me. Before one particular farm switched to GMO corn seed I raised the weight of a steer, approximately 850 pounds, from a single hive in Parker, Colorado. That farmer’s son-in-law has seen fit to change back to heirloom corn seed and I have hope of seeing good crops there once again. That farmer’s father-in-law, now deceased, told me he coped with the alfalfa weevil by baling the weevils into the first cutting. Weevils left alive in July were scorched in the heat and did not present a threat to 2nd and 3rd cuttings.
Dead bees tell tales and they speak loud and clear to scientists who properly exercise the scientific method. The best scientists in history have been run through the matrix of life’s experience before tackling such questions as, in this case, “why are these bees dying?” Poison is poison, no matter how you apply it and unfortunately bees don’t read the labels on any of Monsanto or Bayer or fill-in-the-blank’s pesticide. – Paul Hendricks