Date Published: 17th May 2023


Herbicides: A threat to bee and pollinator survival


One of the most horrifying sites a beekeeper can face is to find a once thriving colony debilitated or killed by exposure to pesticides.  The telltale sign of a pesticide kill is what looks like a “carpet” of dead bees in front of the entrance.  Sometimes, in the worst kills, the affected bees die off so quickly that the hive cannot even deal with the die-off, and a pile of dead bees accumulates at the bottom of the hive or right at the entrance.
Pesticide kills are not unique to any specific kind of beekeeper.  Hobbyist and back garden beekeepers can suffer from kills when nearby neighbours apply insecticides to their flower or vegetable gardens as sadly occurred recently to the hives kept at The Ship in Uphill.  Beekeepers can also be affected if toxins enter a water source from which the bees are drinking.
When foragers carry pesticide-laden pollen or nectar back to the hive, disaster ensues.  Depending on the dosage, bees become sick or die.  If the exposure is severe enough, not only is the colony of bees lost, but also the honeycomb becomes contaminated and needs to be disposed of.
7 Bee-Friendly Ways to Kill Weeds
In order to kill weeds without killing bees, avoid using weed killers with glyphosate (such as Roundup) and acidic household chemicals like vinegar. Instead, employ the following tactics to suppress weeds and allow pollinating bees to thrive:
Use a weed killer with 2,4-D or Atrazine as the active ingredient.
Mow your lawn prior to spraying weeds. This will cut off weed flowers and reduce bee contact with any herbicide you’ve sprayed.
Spray weeds between the hours of 8:00 PM and 8:00 AM, when bees are not foraging.
Attack weeds early in spring, before they begin flowering and attracting bees.
Hand-pull or hoe weeds to get rid of them without chemicals
Kill weeds with boiling water.