Honey bees and pesticides

Beekeeper practices to reduce bee poisoning

Tell people where your apiaries are located

Let pesticide users know where your apiaries are located, including:

  • Property owners within bee flight range of your apiaries.
  • Ground and air contractors applying pesticides in the areas near your apiaries.
  • Natural Resource Management Board.
  • Local Councils.

Provide your details

Provide your details to property owners and contractors. Include:

  • Property name and address.
  • Date apiaries moved onto the site.
  • Date when they will be moved from the site.
  • Your contact details.

Identify your apiaries

Identify you apiaries so you can be contacted if pesticides are to be sprayed in the area. Locate the signs so that the details can be read without risk of bee stings.

On the signs provide your:

  • name
  • bee keeper registration
  • phone number where you can be easily contacted.

Shelter your apiaries

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

Provide clean water

  • Provide your bees with clean sources of water.
  • Locate your apiaries away from water sources that may be contaminated with pesticides.

Inspect your apiaries

Inspect your apiaries regularly so that:

  • Possible pesticide damage is identified quickly
  • action can be taken to rehabilitate the apiary.

Reserve apiary holding areas

  • Reserve apiary holding areas a minimum of 7 km from areas treated with pesticides. Bees can forage up to about 5 to 7 km from the hive.
  • Ensure that your apiaries can be moved quickly if required.

Know your pesticides

Find out the:

  • names of pesticides used in the areas where you apiaries are located
  • contact toxicity and residual toxicity of the pesticides
  • pesticide application dates.

Move your apiaries

  • Move your apiaries when pesticides application is planned where they are located.
  • Wait till after withholding period before moving your apiaries back to the area

Keep in contact with pesticide users

Keep in contact with people and authorities that apply pesticides within foraging range of your apiaries.

Discuss crop management programs to identify:

  • low toxicity pesticide alternatives
  • cultural practices that will help reduce pesticide damage to your apiaries.

Find out:

  • when you need to move your apiaries
  • the withholding period for safe return.

Crop grower practices to reduce bee poisoning

Advise bee keepers

Advise bee keepers with apiaries located on your property of pesticides used by you and on adjacent properties if known.

Inform pesticide contractors

Inform contracted pesticide applicators where apiaries are located on your property.

Notify bee keepers in advance

Notify beekeepers when pesticide applications are planned for your property.

Give at least 48 hours but more time is preferable. Bees can only be moved at night and under suitable environmental conditions.

Use buffer zones

Use buffer zones and buffer plantings to protect non-target crops and native vegetation used by foraging bees

Using vegetative barriers to minimise off-target movement of chemicals (PDF 81.4 KB or )

Natural and artificial barriers for spray drift exposure mitigation in South Australia (PDF 1.7 MB)

Manage buffer zones

Manage buffer zones, headlands, inter-row and cover crops to reduce damage to foraging bees.

For example, mow inter-row cover crops to reduce impact on bees when applying pesticide to target orchard trees.

Plan control programs

Plan control programs so that pesticides are applied before or after apiaries have been in the area.

Pesticide applicator practices to reduce bee poisoning

Apply pesticides only when needed.

Follow product label instructions

Follow all instructions given product labels [link to page]

Information about risk to bees is usually included under ‘Protection of Livestock’.

Choose low hazard pesticides

Choose pesticides with the lowest:

  • hazard rating for bee
  • lowest residual toxic effect.

Apply pesticides when bees are not foraging

Apply pesticides when bees are not actively foraging in the crop.

  • Apply low hazard pesticides in the morning.
  • Apply pesticides with a residual toxic 3 hours after the bees have stopped flying for the day.

Bees usually stop flying in the late afternoon or early evening, but check the apiary for bee activity.

Be on the alert for apiaries

Look out for apiaries that you aren’t aware of where pesticide applications are planned.

Give bee keepers notice

Notify beekeepers when a pesticide application is planned so that apiaries can be moved.

Give at least 48 hours but more time is preferable. Bees can only be moved at night and under suitable environmental conditions.

Advise bee keepers of the product that will be used and any relevant management considerations.

Assess the location

Assess the level of risk of pesticide damage to apiaries located where spraying is planned.

Use measures to ensure that pesticide application or drift does not occur over apiaries or non- target areas where bees may be foraging.

Protect water sources

Do not contaminate water sources within flying range of apiaries.


Phone: 1300 799 684 Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Misuse Hotline
Email: PIRSA.RuralChemicals@sa.gov.au

South Australian Apiarists’ Association

Phone: (08) 8635 2257
Email: secretary@saaa.org.au
Web: www.saaa.org.au/

Page Last Reviewed: 22 Jan 2015
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