Beekeeper Alert – Russian Wheat Aphid Spraying

With the finding of Russian wheat aphid in South Australia and now confirmed in Victoria, see:
abc.net.au – Endemic Russian Wheat Aphid Spreads From SA to VIC beekeepers need to be aware of what spraying may take place.

Whilst the affected crops are not ones that honey bees usually work, e.g. wheat, barley, oats, there is the possibility of spraying taking place near other crops that bees may be working.

The two approved chemicals for spraying are:

1. Pirimicarb

A check of half a dozen products on the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) website shows that there is no information on toxicity to honey bees on those labels.

A New Zealand Government website, business.govt.nz – Pirimicarb Insecticide Guidance (PDF 4MB) , has the following warning:

Pirimicarb is toxic to bees. You must not spray pirimicarb where bees are foraging or onto any flowering plants, including weeds. If you spray pirimicarb on non-flowering plants that are close to other plants in flower you must only spray in the late evening when bees have stopped working.”

2. Chlorpyrifos

A search of the APVMA website shows a link to the following warning on one product label:

DANGEROUS TO BEES. DO NOT spray any plants in flower while bees are foraging.”

Beekeepers should make sure that they look at local media reports to see what may be happening in their area. Further advice can be obtained from your local Department of Primary Industries or Agriculture or the South Australian Department:  pir.sa.gov.au – Russian Wheat Aphid

Trevor Weatherhead
Executive Director
Australian Honey Bee Industry Council
14 June, 2016

This alert is available for download here: Russian Wheat Aphid (PDF342KB)

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