Beekeepers hit with big losses as bees turn up dead

Luke Page with some of his Bee's outside of Murwillumbah.
Luke Page with some of his Bee's outside of Murwillumbah. Blainey Woodham

HONEY producers are facing an environmental disaster with hives being destroyed or abandoned - and some are blaming the crisis on pesticides.

Murwillumbah horticulturist Luke Page cultivated bees for the past 18 months and believes his hives were affected by bug sprays.

"Recently I found a hive and all that was left of the bees was their skeletons.

"The bee is dead on the inside and the outside, and that's consistent with pesticide poisoning," he said.

He has ruled out all growers in Tweed bar corn because they are sprayed daily.

Black beetle traps set inside Mr Page's hives.
Black beetle traps set inside Mr Page's hives. Blainey Woodham

Mr Page admits the reason for the death of his bees is based on speculation, but his suspicions were confirmed by others in the region.

"I have spoken to a gentleman in Pottsville and he had hives go in a similar way."

Adding to complexity, farmers say they are using pesticides which are perfectly legal.

"We spray Australian standard pesticides first thing in the morning, when there is no breeze, so bees don't get into it," Cugden corn farmer Ross Julius said.

However, as of late, bee keepers who normally bring hives as a pollination service, in-kind for nectar, have not visited Mr Julius' property.

"You'd have to ask them why they don't bring their hives anymore," he told the Daily News.

Doug Paddon, another grower from Cudgen, says to prevent bee deaths farmers must be strategic.

"I have wild bees in a shed to pollinate many crops. When they're active I don't spray and when they're dormant I do spray, but only at night when other bees are not working."

The Daily News' community paper, the Tweed Border Mail, reported this week a devastation of Australian honey bees following a feral beetle infestation, climate change and disappearing disease.

Mr Page with some of his hives.
Mr Page with some of his hives. Blainey Woodham

Did you know?

Scientists are gluing GPS microchips onto honey bees to study "disappearing disease", a colony collapse disorder in which hives are abruptly abandoned

Topics:  bees honey

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