Pesticides present us with a challenge. Most wild pollinators are insects, and pesticides are substances designed to kill or control insects. Pest control is important in small-scale, and commercial farming systems, yet insects are critical pollinators of our crops.
The application of pesticides must take into account the
potential negative effects on biodiversity and to especially avoid contact between pesticides, and insect pollinators.
The first question to ask is:
Does my crop or plants require pollinators?
If the answer is yes, then there are steps that farmers and gardeners can take to minimize exposure of pollinators to pesticides:
• It is essential to read the label and follow instructions carefully.
• Find out what the pesticide toxicity is for bees.
• Use the product in accordance with the labelled
instructions—overuse, misuse, and poor disposal of pesticides pose threats to bees, and to human health.
• Identify the pollinators that visit your crops.
• DO NOT spray when the crop is in flower!
• DO NOT spray when insects are visiting the flowers!
• Avoid spraying crop field verges, compacted earth sites, and sheltered banks.
• Know the location of colonies, and aggregated pollinator nest sites, and have a plan for protecting them.
• Carefully study pollinator activity throughout the day, from dawn to dusk, to help develop spraying regimes
that avoid the main foraging periods of wild insect
• Take into consideration potential exposure of pollinators through pesticide residues on foliage, and in the soil.
Consider reducing your reliance on pesticides and incorporate other pollinator-friendly methods—often referred to as Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
In IPM you use knowledge about pest habits and activities, and an understanding of your farm or garden environment to enable biological pest control.