Poisoning of worker bees and broods through the irresponsible use of chemicals causes huge annual losses to beekeepers, as well as farmers who depend on pollination for crop production.
Peter Zeier from Bayer CropScience feels there are a number of reasons for this problem – a lack of registered products for use on minor crops such as canola; incomplete, unclear or inadequate warnings on labels; people who don’t read the labels; the fact that most insecticides are applied after blossoming when bees are most active; and a disregard for the impact of chemicals applied to adjacent crops. Zeier said there were several ways to stop the irresponsible use of chemicals and make users more aware of the impact of various chemicals on bee colonies. R egistered holders of chemicals could play a major role by presenting bee awareness training at annual agent and distributor days, to highlight the inherent dangers chemicals pose to bees.
Seed companies could also help by making farmers aware of the necessity of bee activity on the crops their seeds produce, so farmers would be more cautious before using chemicals. In addition, warning labels on chemical products should be redesigned so that they become a lot more visual. “Instead of having a small written warning, a logo that catches the eye should be designed to indicate whether a product is safe or unsafe for use around bees,” Zeier advised. – Glenneis Erasmus
Statutory levy needed to improve beekeeping
Industry fragmentation and a lack of funding could ruin the beekeeping industry. T his is according to Dr Beatrice Conradie from the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town, who was speaking at the recent South African Bee Industry Organisation (SABIO) annual conference in Heidelberg. “The bee industry is highly fragmented and little is known about its size and its financial impact,” she said. “industry also suffers from a lack of funding to improve itself and initiate new ventures.” Peter Dall, who initiated the National Agricultural Marketing Council Section 7 Committee to identify challenges in the beekeeping industry, added that the industry would only be able to achieve the goals the committee has set out if it’s unified and has a statutory levy.
The committee’s goals were formulated to enhance the sustainability of the bee industry and are based on its needs for better legislation, the enforcement of legislation, research and market development, training and transformation, as well as more forage. D all emphasised that a statutory levy would only be approved if government was convinced that all the stakeholders in the industry support it. The industry must also be able to quantify and qualify production. The Centre for Social Science Research at the of Cape Town recently conducted a survey of beekeeping in Africa to quantify and qualify the industry.
It revealed that the industry is dominated by small-scale farmers who are beekeepers as a hobby. industry therefore has to decide the form that levies should take – a registration fee or a tax on hives, production, or apiary sites, or perhaps a combination of these. Most farmers at the SABIO conference were in favour of a registration fee, in combination with a levy on the amount of honey produced.
However this idea needs to be approved by the whole industry before it will be presented to government for consideration.Conradie also pointed out that the success of a lobby group is dependent on several things – the number of people it represents and their geographical spread, its effectiveness in addressing the needs of its members, its political influence and the depth of its pockets.– Glenneis Erasmus