Rapeseed treatment causes bee 'apocalypse' in Tatarstan and five other regions?

More than 3,000 bee colonies have died in our region — where the rapeseed fields have been treated with pesticides

Experts have named the most probable cause of mass death of bees in Tatarstan and five other neighbouring regions. As reported to Realnoe Vremya in the Management of Aquaculture and Beekeeping of the Republic of Tatarstan, the blight has been provoked by the farmers growing rapeseed after having treated the fields with deadly for bees pesticides. About what areas have been covered by the “epidemic”, how many bee colonies have been lost, and how the officials are planning to rescue the situation — read in our material.

Warned, but not prevented

The beekeepers in the village of Sredniy Alat of the Vysokogorsky district have become the first affected — 30 bee colonies died there in a week. On June 28, the ministry of agriculture on the official website posted a warning addressed to the farmers and beekeepers.

First, they reminded that the use of pesticides and agrochemicals must be carried out in accordance with the law of the Russian Federation “On safe handling of pesticides and agrochemicals”, according to which they “are obliged not later than three days before the start of such treatment personally in writing or through the media to warn the population, veterinary service, citizens and legal entities with apiaries located within a radius of not less than seven kilometres from the place of treatment”. Second, they asked “to pay close attention to the announcements in the media about the chemical treatment of crops and, in order to avoid negative consequences, to take the necessary measures”.

However, the bees, apparently, did not read the warnings, and on July 1, Minister of Agriculture and Food Marat Akhmetov at a meeting in the House of Government reported on the mass complaints of beekeepers on the death of bees in connection with chemical treatment of crops.

Rapeseed is good, but linden is better!

On 6 July, the state budgetary institution Management of Aquaculture and Beekeeping of the Republic of Tatarstan sent to the ministry of agriculture a newsletter, which reported on the deaths of more than 3,000 bee colonies in Aktanyshsky, Vysokogorsky, Zainsky, Mamadyshsky, Menzelinsky and Sabinsky districts. According to CEO of the SBI Faiz Dinmukhametov, in this regard, the ministry plans to convene a meeting.

“Fortunately, bees have suffered greatly not all over Tatarstan, but only in several districts,” Fayiz Dinmukhametov shared his dubious joy with the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya. “But the death of more than 3,000 families is a lot, the total number of bee colonies in the republic in different years fluctuates within 220,000-250,000. At the same time, beekeeping literally feeds many villagers — there is no alternative work there, if not everyone is a beekeeper, then every second or third is for sure.”

The exact cause of death of bees has not yet been established, says Dinmukhametov, because for a long time they were looking for a laboratory where one could take the dead bees for analysis. Now they have found — the analysis will be carried out by the emergency department laboratory. However, the director general of the SBI agrees with the preliminary version of the beekeepers about the death of bees from the chemicals that the farmers use to treat the rapeseed fields from pests. He says that bees die where there is rapeseed, and the growers save the rapeseed from insects just using especially dangerous for bees pesticides, and they do not warn in advance the beekeepers about spraying chemicals in the fields.

At the same time, neither the management nor the ministry of agriculture accuses the farmers directly, as it has not been proven that it is them poisoned the bees.

“Besides, farmers also have to survive somehow,” said the director general of the management of aquaculture and beekeeping. “They plant rapeseed, it is a profitable culture, but pests like them a lot. To save the crops, they have to be processed almost weekly during flowering. But the blooming rape is very attractive for bees!”

Between the brackets, Faiz Dinmukhametov noted that rape is a good honey plant, however beekeepers have only problems from it. The fields are not only filled with chemistry but also rapeseed honey is unsuitable for bee wintering because of quick crystallization, so beekeepers have to quickly pump it out of the hives:

“Linden — it is totally a different story — honey from it is lovely, and the tree, in contrast to rapeseed crops, is innocuous, but for some reason, the linden trees are cut down en masse. You can't cut the linden!”

The silence of the bees

The ministry of agriculture and food of the Republic of Tatarstan could not tell the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya what measures are taken to ensure the safety of work on the treatment of crops with pesticides. More correctly, in fact, they recognized, that none of them so far:

“We have received the complaints on the death of bees, we have warned farmers that they were obliged to notify in advance veterinary services and the population on treatments, however in reply plant growers wrote that all the actions coordinated with beekeepers,” leading adviser of sector of development of livestock complexes Ramil Khakimov reported.

The correspondent of Realnoe Vremya asked how the ministry provide “feedback” — they monitor: were there warnings about pollination or not? It turned out, they do not track:

“All alerts go through district administrations.”

As a result, it turns out that no one can say whether farmers informed the population about the spraying of poison, except bees. Since the bees, as they say, do not buzz, the answer is obvious.

“Poisonous” geography

Meanwhile, about the murderous effect on the bees of non-poisonous rapeseed they guessed not only in Tatarstan. Mass death of bees was registered in the neighbouring regions — Mari El, Udmurtia, Bashkortostan, Ulyanovsk Oblast, Mordovia. There, too, they are checking the bees, drawing conclusions and sounding the alarm due to the fact that the development of one profitable agricultural direction kills another, no less profitable and relevant.

“The death of bees has been registered in seven districts of our republic,” Minister of Agriculture of Udmurtia Olga Abramova posted in her FB. “The cause of death of bees — is being established... Already now many say that the cause of death — the pesticides used by farmers for treatment of plants. That's possible. Even more... that's probably true. Are we using more chemicals? Correct! Up to five rapeseed treatments for the current season have been carried out by agricultural producers (!!!). The reason for the use of insecticides in such an amount (and, judging by the description of the process of death of bees, it is systemic insecticides) — the mass appearance of harmful (harmful to plants) insects. In general, of course, this is a standard technological process).”

According to the Bashkir research and production veterinary laboratory, the loss of bee colonies in the republic amounted to 4,6%, and the ministry of agriculture of the Republic of Bashkiria counted already 17%. The death of bees has been registered in seven districts of Bashkiria, Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Bashkiria Revner Baytullin already called the preliminary reason — the use of pesticides used to protect against pests of the same rape.

The Veterinary Committee of the Republic of Mari El has recorded the mass death of bees in the Volga River, Medvedevsky, Kuzhenersky, Sernursky and Sovetsky districts.

Minister of Agriculture of Ulyanovsk Oblast Mikhail Semenkin officially confirmed to journalists about the mass death of bees in Melekesskiy, Nikolaevsky, Pavlovsky, Sursky and Tsilninsky districts. According to him, about 2,300 bee colonies have been lost, and the results of examination which will allow to draw conclusions about the reasons of death, will become known not earlier, than in 4-6 months. The expertise, by the way, is carried out in Kazan.

Rapeseed is more valuable than bees?

As Chairman of the Udmurt Republican Society of Beekeepers Honey of Udmurtia, Professor Geliy Lomaev told the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya, the mass death of bees in the republic has been registered not the first year. But in those regions where the field are not pollinated with chemistry, for example, in Sarapulsky district, the bees are alive. He also believes that the whole thing is in rapeseed, “At least, there are no other versions.” But no one expect that in order to save bees Udmurtia will sacrifice rape.

“According to the received data, the estimated scale of the disaster — 213 bee colonies,” Head of the regional Ministry of Agriculture Olga Abramova posted in FB. “This is 0,3 per cent of the total number of bee colonies registered in Udmurtia... There is an opinion that it is necessary to stop working with poisons in the fields... To have it all make sense, I will give only two figures: the estimated cost of the dead bees — a little more than a million rubles (if you count the honey lost in the season — plus 1,6 million rubles), the potential death of rapeseed only one Vavozhsky district (with the exception of treatment) can reach 33,5 million rubles. The figures speak for themselves.”

As proof of the reasonableness of this position, Abramova posted photos of untreated — pest-eaten rape and the treated one — whole and unharmed. At the same time, she did not reflect the attitude to the fact that toxic chemicals that kill bees can be unsafe for people.

In fairness, it should be added that, according to Abramova, “it makes sense to discuss the issue of support for law-abiding beekeepers... and do not forget that the death of bees — extremely disadvantageous for agriculture situation... there will be no bees — there will be no pollination — there will be no harvest.”

By Inna Serova