Cape commercial bee farmers experienced a devastating revenue loss after thousands of bees were infected by a poison that left their hives ravaged. Many farmers initially did not know the cause, but tests carried out on bee samples revealed ant pesticides, lethally poisonous to bees, to be the culprit.
The bees were found dead right outside their hives and farmers suspected that the cause was pesticides used in nearby farmers, and after testing samples taken from some of the infected bees, their suspicions were confirmed.
Fipronil, a broad-use insecticide discovered in the infected bee samples, interferes with the insects’ central nervous systems and causes hyperexcitation of their nerves and muscles, resulting in death.
“I inspected about 150 hives on Thursday and about 40% of the hives have masses of dead bees in front of them,” the vice-chairperson of the Western Cape Bee Industry Association (WCBA) told IOL.