Pesticide use kills 50 percent of honeybees in Punjab and Haryana, experts say – The New Indian Express

CHANDIGARH: Punjab, the country’s third largest honey producer, is now facing a peculiar situation. For the first time, a large number of honeybees have died in Punjab and Haryana. As a result of spraying pesticides on crops such as cotton, bajra, paddy and summer moon, at least 50 percent of honeybees have died in both states. This has left farmers staring at heavy losses this season.

Advisor to the Progressive Bee Keepers Association, Narpinder Singh Dhaliwal, said there are about 4,000 beekeepers in Punjab alone. Each keeper has about 300 to 400 colonies (boxes) and each colony has 20,000 bees. That means a beekeeper has a minimum of 60 lakh bees. Dhaliwal is also the leading beekeeper in Moga.

Dhaliwal said, “The bees have died on a large scale from pesticide spraying in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. The death rate of bees is between 25 and 90 percent per beekeeper depending on his situation, so on average it is 50 percent. While the bee mortality rate is between 10 and 15 percent each year.Except in Punjab and Haryana, this time in Kota, Alwar and other districts of Rajasthan, the bee death rate was higher because of the spraying of pesticides in these bajra-growing areas.Bees collect nectar from sunflowers and pollen from paddy and bajra.According to National Bee Board data, Punjab produces 18,600 tons of honey annually and ranks third in the country with Uttar Pradesh with about 25,000 tons and West Bengal with 20,000 tons,” he says.

“We know that in the US and Europe bees are dying from the use of pesticides. Sometimes pesticides are directly toxic to the bees, in other cases they can actually reduce their immunity to disease so that they are adversely affected. So when bees die, you can be sure there’s a broader impact on other beneficial insects or other animals,” said Mark Davis, director

Agriculture and Regulatory Outreach at the Center for Pesticide and Suicide Prevention, University of Edinburgh in the UK. While experts from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Punjab Agricultural University suspect that bee deaths were caused by insecticides and pesticides used in bee flora of the summer moong and paddy in both Punjab and Haryana and in sunflowers in Haryana and bajra in Rajasthan. Because farmers depend on pesticides to save crops and beekeepers need to plan hive migration accordingly, an expert said.

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