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The spray liaison scheme is a co-operative effort involving beekeepers, farmers, growers and spray contractors in Somerset, concerning matters related to the application and use of chemical sprays. The scheme also provides a means by which mutual understanding of the problems of crop pest management and honeybee management can be gained by beekeepers and farmers alike.
Your part as a member of SBKA
1. Let your Divisional Spray Liaison Officer or Secretary know in which parish(es) you keep your bees. This is most important as the scheme operates by parishes. It also means that nobody knows the exact location of your hives for security purposes.
2. Tell the local farmers you have bees in the area.
3. Keep an eye out for crops most likely to be sprayed in your area which attract bees, eg rape, beans, etc. See the farmer and tell him your bees are working his crop. Ask to be notified when he sprays, and pass this information on to the Divisional and County Spray Liaison Officers, as this may save some other bees in your area.
4. Be nosey, keep an eye on the flowering fields; rogue contractors may well spray when you are not about, but next day your bees may be dead.
For the Farmer/Contractor
All spray equipment operators must hold a certificate of competence to use a sprayer, whether it is land-based or aerial, boat or even a knapsack. During their training days, one of the sections covered concerns bees. No crop should be sprayed whilst in flower without notification to local beekeepers and the SBKA Spray Liaison Officer. If this cannot be done for whatever reason (eg beekeeper on holiday) the spray operator must try and spray during non-flying times, early morning or late evening. Where possible 48 hours notice must be given to allow for removal of the bees.
How the scheme works
The SBKA Spray Liaison Officer is Chris Harries - 01823 442734 (24 hour answering machine). After being informed by a farmer or contractor that he is about to spray ???? crop in the parish of ???? with whatever chemical, he will telephone the Divisional contact(s) who covers that parish. The Divisional contact must then tell their members, with bees in the area affected, that spraying will take place at ???? on ????day, so that bees can be removed. THIS IS WHY YOU MUST INFORM YOUR DIVISIONAL CONTACT OF THE PARISH WHERE YOU KEEP YOUR BEES.
If you find large numbers of dead bees (thousands) at the entrance of your hives, suspect spray damage, do not panic (some people may find this difficult) but try to follow the instructions below:
1. Take a large sample - 2 to 3 pints of dead bees.
2. Send half the dead bees to: CSL, National Bee Unit, Sand Hutton, York, North Yorkshire YO41 1LZ; but do not wrap in plastic. Put the other half in your freezer (in case the half sent to CSL get lost or more bees are needed at the laboratory).
3. Note the following:
a. The date and time you last saw your bees fit and well.
b. What the weather had been like since you last saw your bees (ie was it good spraying weather).
c. What crops are nearby which could have been sprayed.
d. Signs of fresh wheel marks in these crops.
4. Ask people living close by if they have seen farmers spraying or any very low flying helicopters.
5. The culprit will not be too far away, have a good look around.
All these points are important when you try to make a claim for the loss of bees, honey, etc.