Agricultural pesticides endanger bees


The bee population is dwindling in many parts of the CR. Agricultural pesticides are likely to be the main cause - several bee colonies died out recently in Southern Moravia and a bee-keeper in the Pardubice region lost more than 13 million bees over the past weekend. Vladimir Tax reports:

During a regular inspection of his beehives, Petr Sedivy, from the village of Zaravice, east of Prague, found out that some 90 percent of his bee colony had died. The first chemical analyses showed that the deaths of the bees might have been caused by an agricultural pesticide a nearby agricultural farm applies to its fields. For Mr. Sedivy, the liquidation of the ten colonies - a total of some 13 million bees - is not only a huge financial loss, but also means the destruction of some 20 years of diligent work.

The desperate bee-keeper is quoted as saying that there was talk in the village about his bee colonies being infected by a bee-embryo plague, but - he says - if only this were true! In such a case Mr. Sedivy would at least get insurance compensation from the state.

He is now attempting to track the cause of the deaths. Doubtlessly, this will be a difficult task, because the chemical substances used by the local farm evaporate quickly and it will be very difficult to prove that the bees died because this dangerous pesticide had been used.

The head of the bee-keepers' association in the nearby town of Filipov, Vaclav Zeman says that bee keepers are helpless when it comes to chemical crop-spraying:

"There's no feasible way how we can protect ourselves, because the landowners feel free to do what they want, and sometimes it's not even clear to whom the field belongs. It also depends on the concentration of fertilizers, because when individual substances are mixed together in the wrong way they might be fatal for the bees."

But even this sad experience will not prevent Mr. Sedivy from bee-keeping. On the contrary - he is firmly resolved to start a campaign aimed at barring farmers from using dangerous fertilizers in bee-keeping areas.