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Bee mortality blamed on insecticide. Bee mortality blamed on insecticide.

Insecticide blamed for Michoacán bee deaths

Beekeepers blame farmers for the loss of thousands of bees

A dispute has broken out between beekeepers and farmers in a rural community near Lake Chapala.

Apiarists in Ciénega de Chapala, Michoacán, say that an insecticide used by sorghum producers to control sugarcane aphids has caused the loss of 280 beehives and the deaths of thousands of bees.

“We have around 3,000 hives and they are being affected in the places where treatment against aphids is being applied,” said Felipe García, the president of a local beekeepers’ association.

“In a two-kilometer radius from where they are using it they are devastating beekeeping and as the whole region is sown they are going to end beekeeping with that product.”

García said that while the bees die gradually, effects can normally be seen within a day of the insecticide being used.

“They arrive from the fields, and they can’t organize themselves. It’s a neurotoxin and this product doesn’t allow them to fly or feed themselves and they completely collapse.”

It’s not the first time that an insecticide has had a negative effect on local bee populations.

García told the newspaper Milenio that a similar phenomenon occurred two years ago. Then, experts from the state Ecology Institute and Ciénega University found that honey, wax and the bees showed traces of imadacloprid, an insecticide belonging to the neonicotinoid family.

Farmers consequently committed to advise beekeepers prior to using the chemical but this year they did not do so.

“When they applied it again, they didn’t notify anyone. They killed absolutely all our bees again so we’ve already started legal action,” García explained.

“We lodged our complaint and the municipality declared . . . that the product couldn’t be used. But not only did they keep using it, now they accuse me of being responsible for the loss of grain in the whole region because I’m promoting that they not use these chemicals.”

García said that a local farmers’ organization affiliated with the federal Agriculture Secretariat (Sagarpa) is selling imadacloprid for 450 pesos (US $25) a liter after acquiring it cheaply through the government agency, and is concerned about the financial impact of not being able to sell it.

The president of that organization, Oscar Cabello Leyva, said it has not provided the offending pesticide to farmers since August 4 but stressed that continuing the suspension was subject to scientific results proving that it was actually causing damage to bees.

He also stated that alternative pesticides are unaffordable and that there was a danger that crops would be lost if aphids were not repelled.

Insecticides have previously killed bee populations in Jalisco, San Luis Potosí and the Comarca Lagunera region of Coahuila and Durango. Federal deputy Verónica Delgadillo will present a petition in Congress Monday to pressure the government to ban the offending insecticide.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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