20 Oct 2010

Chemical poisoning suspected in beehive losses

6:43 am on 20 October 2010

The national beekeepers' association believes bees are being poisoned by agri-chemicals used on orchards and farms and is attempting to quantify the damage.

It is asking beekeepers who have suffered unexplained bee losses in the past year to fill in a survey.

Some 80,000 hives are used in orchards during flowering every year to pollinate fruit crops, and hundreds of thousands more are located on farms to pollinate the clover in pasture grazed by livestock.

The chair of the association's pollination committee, Neil Mossop, says there have been reports of some beekeepers losing up to 150 hives through possible poisoning.

He says they would like to know from beekeepers exactly how many hives have been lost over the past year and what may have been sprayed in the area.

Mr Mossop says the industry is also trying to find out why between 18% and 30% of bees die during kiwifruit pollination.