Effects of selected insecticide formulations, phased application and colony management strategies on honeybee mortality in processing sweetcorn

publication date: Apr 23, 2010
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Journal of Apicultural Research
Vol. 36 (1) pp.3-13
Date
January 1997
 
Article Title

Effects of selected insecticide formulations, phased application and colony management strategies on honeybee mortality in processing sweetcorn

Author(s)

E H Erickson; B H Erickson; P Kflottum;

Abstract

These studies were undertaken to evaluate different strategies for reducing losses of honey bees (Apis mellifera) due to the use of insecticides in commercial sweetcorn (Zea mays) production fields. The strategies were: (I), insecticide application timed to avoid peak flowering periods in sweetcorn; (2), insecticide formulation, including carbofuran, encapsulated methyl parathion, permethrin and a tank mix of carbaryl plus parathion; (3), the use of pollen traps to prevent contaminated pollen coming into the hive; and (4), feeding (engorgement) of colonies with sugar syrup immediately following insecticide application to reduce honey bee foraging. Timing of insecticide applications was ineffective and a practical impossibility. Bee mortality was less with permethrin than with the other materials tested. Pollen traps and colony feeding may reduce bee mortality under some circumstances; however, these strategies proved unreliable and further study is needed. The data show that bees foraging on ragweed (Ambrosia spp.) adjacent to sweetcorn fields, rather than on sweetcorn, may be responsible for generating the excessive bee losses associated with sweetcorn. The results further indicate that circumstances in each field are unique due to prevailing conditions at each site, e.g. clean cultivation, competing resources, insecticide tank mixes, and other nearby applications. Finally, we find it highly significant that we were unable to induce high levels of bee mortality by applying our test compounds at the rate given by the manufacturers.

Keywords

honey bees, Apis mellifera, sweetcorn, maize, Zea mays, insecticides, pollen traps, feeding sugar syrup, management, mortality, USA

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