In 2012 WAFarmers welcomed the the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority’s (APVMA) announcement that it would review the science on pesticides and bee health. There have been concerns in various parts of Europe and USA about the potential for insecticides to impact on the health of honey bees and other insect pollinators in the environment. It is thought that a new generation of pesticides called neonicotinoids may play a role in the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) which is a phenomenon noticed particularly in the USA and Europe where bees suddenly disappear from their hives.
In February 2014 the APVMA has released an overview report entitled “Neonicotinoids and the health of Honey Bees in Australia”. The report looked to establish whether:
a) The use of the neonicotinoid insecticides in Australia is presenting any more of a risk to the health of honeybees than other pesticides which have been in use for many years; and
b) The current APVMA data requirements for testing of insecticides are adequate to address scientific concerns about subtle effects of neonicotinoids (and other pesticides) on honey bees which have been suggested as impacting their ability to pollinate plants and collect honey.
It is pleasing to see that information and advice available to the APVMA, at this point in time, suggests that “in Australia honey bee populations are not in decline and insecticides are not a highly significant issue, even though they are clearly toxic to bees if used incorrectly. Incidents of beekeepers losing bee colonies as a result of insecticide use do occur, but this most often arises because there has been a break-down in communication between the farmer and the affected beekeeper.” The full report is available here.