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‘An absolute mess’: ‘Intestine-wrenching’ bee deaths prompt renewed call for ban on insecticide Fipronil

‘An absolute mess’: ‘Intestine-wrenching’ bee deaths prompt renewed call for ban on insecticide Fipronil

A southern Queensland beekeeper is desperate for answers after losing up to 600,000 honeybees to suspected poisoning by a controversial agricultural chemical.

Key aspects:

  • Biosecurity Queensland is investigating the reason of bee deaths at Dalby on the Western Downs
  • Beekeeper Peter Donohoe says traces of the insecticide Fipronil had been found on his dumb bees and hives
  • He is now joined diversified keepers in calling for a ban on the chemical’s pronounce

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Peter Donohoe, from Dalby, first contacted biosecurity officials after finding many of of demise bees on his property on Christmas morning.

“I went out and there are dumb bees in front of every hive and bees demise on the same time,” he said.

“I tried to behold what bees I could perchance put and we started transferring them and splitting [the hives].

“Precisely four weeks later the leftover bees that had been there got hit once more.”

Mr Donohoe shifted the survivors, mostly Italian bees, to a fresh location shut to the Dalby township but the deaths procure continued up to this week.

He estimated 15 hives had been destroyed, whereas the supreme hives had been weakened.

“Or no longer it is intestine-wrenching. I will not if reality be told take care of it,” he said.

“That you must perchance perchance be left with an absolute mess of dumb bees and empty packing containers.

A man in a white beekeeper's suit with boots and red gloves stands in a paddock with beehives.

Peter Donohoe with some supreme hives.(Supplied: Peter Donohoe)

Hyperlink to ‘surprising’ insecticide

Mr Donohue said he sent samples from the hives to a laboratory in Brisbane, the get they tested optimistic for the chemical Fipronil.

The plentiful-pronounce insecticide is banned within the United States and Europe, but appropriate in Australia, and is essentially worn on cotton in Queensland.

In 2019, an EPA investigation found Fipronil likely contributed to the deaths of millions of bees in Recent South Wales, sparking calls for a ban from some beekeepers.

Mr Donohue echoed these calls.

“The chemical’s got to be banned because or no longer it is a bad chemical, or no longer it is surprising,” he said.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has been reviewing using Fipronil and its risks to human well being and the environment since 2011.

In a commentary, the APVMA said registered Fipronil merchandise had been protected to make pronounce of in accordance with designate directions, which included no longer spraying in areas the get bees had been identified to forage and notifying beekeepers to glide hives before spraying.

It expected to propose a regulatory decision this 12 months.

Communication a must-procure

Biosecurity Queensland is investigating Mr Donohoe’s criticism.

A spokesperson said there used to be no evidence that “without delay” suggested the bee deaths had been brought about by spray waft but it used to be doable for bees to convey chemical substances lend a hand to their hives after foraging.

Chair of the Australian Honeybee Commerce Council Trevor Weatherhead said the chemical posed ongoing issues for the industry.

“The get we now procure had colossal bee deaths or no longer it is basically been attributed to Fipronil,” he said.

“One of the things we uncover the beekeepers to achieve within the occasion that they attain procure deaths like that is to beget out the detrimental trip file that goes to the APVMA.

A mixture of and dead bees around one of Peter Donohoe's hives.

Mr Donohoe fears the bee deaths could perchance be the waste of his operation that has taken 10 years to design.(Supplied: Peter Donohoe)

With bees travelling up to eight kilometres from their hives, Mr Weatherhead said keepers and neighbouring farmers must tranquil communicate commonly about their plans, which some attain by capacity of Slash Lifestyles Australia’s free ‘Bee Connected’ smartphone app.

“Growers certainly deserve to be on the app,” he said.

“It would possibly truly perchance then inform them of beekeepers within the deliver and they’ll talk with them.”

‘I am accomplished’

Since reporting the deaths at his property, Mr Donohoe said he had spoken to eight neighbours who had additionally misplaced bees.

He welcomed Biosecurity Queensland’s investigation but said he would no longer have the opportunity to restore his colony.

“After this lot, I am accomplished. I am only a pensioner,” he said.

“I’ve spent 10 years getting the bees to the get they’re if reality be told.

‘An absolute mess’: ‘Intestine-wrenching’ bee deaths prompt renewed call for ban on insecticide Fipronil