With the reduction in number of domestic and wild bee colonies due to colony collapse disorder and other diseases, the value of honeybees and native bees for pollination has increased.

Honeybees and native pollinators are a vital part of our agricultural food production and should be protected from pesticide poisoning, according to Janet Knodel, North Dakota State University Extension Service entomologist.

“The value of bee pollination is estimated at 14.6 billion dollars in the U.S.,” Knodel says. “With the reduction in number of domestic and wild bee colonies due to colony collapse disorder and other diseases, the value of honeybees and native bees for pollination has increased. This increases the importance of protecting bees from pesticide poisoning.”

Bees are attracted to blooming field crops, such as canola and sunflowers, and even weeds, such as dandelions, wild mustard, white clover and goldenrod, in the field for nectar and/or pollen. Pools of water in fields also may draw bees into fields, especially during dry periods.

Because bees forage up to two and half miles or more from their hive, all beekeepers within two to three miles of the area to be treated with insecticide should be notified at least the evening before the insecticide is to be applied.

The names of beekeepers can be obtained by going to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture’s website at http://www.agdepartment.com/PDFFiles/2011BeekeepersList.pdf.

Bee pesticide hazards can be reduced by following these guidelines:

Know and communicate with beekeepers about hive locations.

Use chemicals with low toxicity and low residual to bees. For example, avoid using dusts or wettable powder insecticide formulations because they are more toxic to bees.

Evening or night applications are the least harmful to bees. Early morning is the next best time because fewer bees are foraging.

The timing of using insecticides can be affected by weather conditions. If temperatures are unusually low following a treatment, residues on the crop may remain toxic to bees up to twice as long as during reasonably warm weather. Conversely, if abnormally high temperatures occur during the late evening or early morning hours, bees may forage actively on the treated crop.

Do not spray when winds can cause drift. Also, do ground applications instead of by air when possible.

Use economic thresholds and other integrated pest management strategies when possible for making control decisions. Economic thresholds ensure that pesticides are used only when crop losses prevented by pesticide use are greater than the cost of the pesticide and the application.

Use all pesticides in a manner consistent with the label directions. The environmental hazard section of labels may include specific restrictions that protect bees. Words that describe bee pesticide restrictions are while “actively visiting (foraging in field)” and “visiting (flying through a field).” Bees are actively foraging when there is daylight and temperatures are above 60 degrees.