Damaging chemical at the centre of “devastating” bee deaths
Beekeepers have experienced "shocking" destruction of their hives in Dalby from a dangerous chemical that is banned in America and Europe, resulting in $30,000 in damages.
Dalby resident and amateur beekeeper Peter Donohue has been hit three times in the past three months from the chemical Fipronil, used to exterminate sap sucking insects in cotton, mung beans in sorghum.
Mr Donohue said this chemical is responsible for wiping out the majority of his hives on Christmas Day 2020, Australia Day 2021, and then finally on February 15, even after shifting them to different locations.
"It's an absolutely devastating site to see, just shocking," he said.
"Just millions of beers which you've spent so much time trying to salvage, then to see them rolling on the ground dying."
He said other beekeeping enthusiasts were hit in different areas in and around Dalby, with Mr Donohue estimating the damages to be more than $30,000 for him and other residents.
Mr Donohoe said in the last five years he has had no chemical problems, with a scientifically tested sample at his own expense identifying Fipronil as the root cause, an approved chemical in Australia.
"This chemical is banned in the UK and USA, and there must be a very good reason why, and we are too slow to realise the damage it is doing to our environment, native species, and us," Mr Donohoe said.
"It has a 14 day withholding period for sorghum and 28 days for cotton, can we all continue to close our eyes to this any longer?"
Mr Donohue said he had been an avid beekeeper for the past 10 years, but believes this devastating blow will set him back indefinitely.
"It's going to be very hard because I practically have to start again from scratch, since I was only able to save a half a dozen hives," he said.
"Financially it's going to cost a lot, buying queens and bees to restart."
The Dalby Beekeepers Club took to Facebook to express their disappointment, after discovering the mountains on dead bees on February 15.
"The problem with this chemical is that it is highly toxic and is residual, so when a bee gets sprayed she brings it back to hive and then any bee that comes into contact with it will also die," they said.
"All I can say is the person or persons using this must be aware, it is highly toxic and not only are you targeting the pest, you are also killing off the beneficial insects too."