Hooo-Hooo Hooo-Hooo Volume 12 Issue 03 - Page 11

Swarms of Cape bees die Bees have been dying in their thousands along the Cape peninsula. Commercial bee farmers experienced a huge number of honeybees dropping dead right outside their hives over the past week. “ It is believed the deaths could be due to accidental poisoning caused by agricultural farming. Beekeepers in the Constantia area believe farmers are spraying their crops with pesticides that contain a mixture of molasses and ant poison. The sweet taste of the concoction attracts the bees, who then become contaminated and carry the poison back to their hives. Vice-chairman of the Western Cape Bee Industry Association and commercial bee farmer, Brendan Ashley-Cooper, told IOL he has lost 100 hives. A sample has been sent for testing in Cape Town’s Hearshaw and Kinnes Analytical Laboratory. “Until we have the lab results we won’t know what the actual cause of the deaths are. But it seems that all things point to accidental poisoning. The largest number of bee deaths we have are from agriculture where farmers are misinformed by suppliers about the effects of the pesticides,” said Ashley-Cooper. This added strain on the Western Cape’s honeybee numbers could not have come at a worse time, as populations are already struggling due to the after effects of drought and fire. Availability of nectar and foraging sites is currently low, while diseases and pests are rampant. Much research and action is needed to mitigate these various threats and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is undertaking 2018 NOVEMBER 11