Protecting honey bees from pesticides

Beekeepers operating apiaries where pesticides are used must take steps to protect their bees.

Steps for bee keepers

Publicise your apiaries to anyone likely to be using pesticides:

Give the following information to the people listed above:

  • your property name and address
  • your contact details
  • dates that hives will be moved on and off the property.

Identify your apiary with a sign showing:

  • your name
  • beekeeper registration number
  • contact number.

Place apiaries in sheltered areas away from crops and fields that are likely to be treated with pesticides.

Make sure apiaries have a water source sheltered from any pesticides.

Inspect apiaries regularly and look for pesticide damage.

Have a reserve apiary holding area a minimum of 7 km away. You can move apiaries to the holding area to protect them from pesticides.

Learn the following information about pesticides being used in your area:

  • names
  • application dates
  • toxicity.

Wait for residual pesticide effects to pass before moving apiaries back into an area where pesticides have been used.

Steps for pesticide applicators

  1. Only apply pesticides when needed.
  2. Follow instructions on pesticide labels. Information about bees can be found in the livestock protection part of the label.
  3. Choose pesticides with the lowest hazard rating for bees and the lowest residual toxic effect.
  4. Apply pesticides when bees are not actively foraging in the crop. Low-hazard products can be used in the morning. Pesticides with residual effects of a few hours can be used when bees have stopped flying for the day in the afternoon or early evening.
  5. Give beekeepers at least 48 hours notice of pesticide application. Advise them of the pesticide being used.
  6. Make sure pesticides do not drift over apiaries or areas where bees may be foraging.
  7. Do not contaminate water supplies near apiaries.

Steps for crop growers

  1. Inform beekeepers of pesticide use on your property.
  2. Tell contract pesticide applicators about any apiaries.
  3. Give beekeepers at least 48 hours’ notice of pesticide application.
  4. Use buffer zones and buffer plantings to protect non-target crops and native vegetation used by foraging bees.
  5. Plan control programs before or after beehives have been in the area if possible.


Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) Rural Chemicals Program

Address: 33 Flemington Street, Glenside
Phone: (08) 8207 7983
Page Last Reviewed: 23 Feb 2018
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