Sun, Sep 02, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Nantou bees die; poison blamed

COLONY COLLAPSE:The Council of Agriculture found traces of insecticides in the dead bees, but officials said it is hard to check farmers and no fines are usually imposed

By Tung Chen-kuo  /  Staff reporter

Farmers in Nantou County have over the past two months witnessed millions of bee deaths possibly caused by fipronil contaminants, despite a ban on the insecticide announced by the Council of Agriculture (COA) last year.

Millions of bees in the county’s Puli (埔里), Caotun (草屯), Jhongliao (中寮) and Yuchih (魚池) townships were poisoned with the insecticide last summer, and the problem recurred this year, bee farmers said yesterday.

Beekeepers in Caotun and Yuchih have reported unusual bee deaths since July and some suspect that it might be the result of increased insecticide use by other farmers following heavy rain, they said.

A farmer surnamed Chen (陳) said that 20 percent of his bees had died and he avoided further losses by moving his hives to mountainous areas.

Three apiaries in Puli’s Guangcheng Borough (廣成), each with about 200 beehives that can sustain 30,000 bees per hive, have suffered losses of more than 70 percent, while the total number of their dead bees is estimated at more than 12 million.

The council’s Miaoli District Agricultural Research and Extension Station on Aug. 15 inspected two apiaries in Puli and found residues of four agricultural insecticides in the dead bees: fipronil, chlorpyrifos, fluvalinate and cyprodinil.

While the council on Sept. 6 last year imposed a ban on 4.95 percent fipronil solution, residue in some dead bees was found to reach 2.396 parts per million, the station said, adding that it has reported the case to the county government and the council’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine.

It is hard to check insecticide use on all farms, so officials tend to explain the regulations to farmers instead of imposing fines, Nantou Department of Agriculture Director Chen Jui-ching (陳瑞慶) said.

People using banned agricultural insecticides can be fined between NT$15,000 and NT$150,000, and those selling or storing banned insecticides face between six months and five years in prison or a NT$1 million to NT$5 million (US$32,540 to US$162,702) fine under to the Agro-pesticides Management Act (農藥管理法), he added.

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