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Spray Liaison Scheme for Farmers and Beekeepers

The Spray liaison scheme allows for contact and dialogue between farmers and growers, who may wish to spray their crops... And beekeepers, whose stocks of bees could be damaged by the spraying process.

Farmers, who may be intending to spray crops with substances that may cause harm to honey bees are likely to be labelled with safety symbols such as 'harmful', 'dangerous, 'extremely dangerous' or 'high risk' to bees. If you intend to use a pesticide that may harm honey bees, you should inform the beekeepers that you have identified in your environmental risk assessment or the Local Spray Liaison Officer 48 hours before you plan to use the pesticide. This will give beekeepers time to take avoiding action. It will also be helpful to inform beekeepers of any change in your plans.

Spray Liaison Officers... These are organised on a county by county basis, you should contact your nearest spray liaison officer on any matter relating to crop spraying that might effect honey bees. The county co-ordinator should be able to put the farmer in touch with a more local Spray Liaison Officer that is part of the county beekeeping association, if there is a need to discuss details of the proposed spraying actions.

If you suspect poisoning as a result of spraying, this can often be recognised by a sudden, unexpected death of bees in large numbers, sometimes clustered on the outside of a hive and sliding off into a pile on the ground beneath, you can try contacting your local spray liaison officer to establish if there was any spraying in the region at the time.

If you wish to submit a sample for analysis in relation to a suspected poisoning incident, at least 200 bees are required for a full analysis for a such a poisoning sample, approximately the number that will fit into a 'Cooks' large sized matchbox. These need to be securely packaged and protected from crushing. Do not use a plastic bag as this will not allow the sample to 'breathe' or dry out naturally. A portion of this sample will be examined for adult bee diseases and any pollen loads or pollen dust will also be examined in order to identify which crops the bees have been working. Bee poisonings are investigated as part of the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) and the overall enquiry is extended to a field investigation and chemical analyses of the bees if it is likely that a poisoning incident has occurred.

 Written... 22, 28 May and 02 June 2006,
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