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NC State Extension

Tips for Keeping Bees Safe

Use IPM Practices

scout-225Only use a insecticide when you really need to. Unnecessary pesticides waste moneys, klll natural predators, and can actually make pest problems worse. To learn how best to manage pests, see Fraser Fir IPM Pest Control.

When an insecticide treatment is required, use only the materials that are necessary. Don’t mix insecticides unless there are multiple pests that need controlling that require the combination. Use the lowest toxicity product. Be sure to read the label and follow all label directions. Warnings about bees are found in the Environmental Hazards section near the front of the label. Labels can be found at Pesticides Labeled for Use on Christmas Trees in North Carolina.

Spray at night, early in the morning or in the evening whenever possible to avoid problems with bees. Bees are not actively foraging when it is cold. Spraying in the late fall and winter is a good way to avoid impacts on pollinators and predators both.

Know Your Neighbors

hives

Another important step in protecting bees is to know your neighbors. How close is your Christmas tree farm to bee hives? Many people keep backyard bees. These may be a hobby, or it may be a way for a family to earn much needed money from the sale of honey. Each bee hive represents several hundred dollars in investment and hours of care on the part of the bee keeper. Bees can travel as much as five miles from a hive, but typically stay within a couple of miles.

Bee keepers can “keep the girls at home” if you need to spray a field with an insecticide. They can do this by stopping the entrance to the hive for several days, or even by moving the hive to another location. By communicating in advance with the bee keeper, they will have time to protect their bees.

Scout for Bees

 bees

Honey bees are not always in Christmas tree fields even if there are flowering ground covers. In some instances, there are no nearby beehives. In other instances, the bees are working trees such as sourwood, and the clover in fields is not as attractive to them. But, especially in the early spring when flowering mustard or purple deadnettle are blooming in tree fields, the Christmas tree field may be one of the few sources of food, and bees will be very attracted to the area. The only way to know if bees are in a field is to scout for them. Visit the field during mid-day and sunny weather before spraying to see how many bees you observe.

Stop Ground Covers From Flowering

mustardTall flowers such as mustard can be chopped down to reduce flowering. Treatments with low rates of Roundup will also burn back flowers for several weeks. Do this prior to treatment, then scout to make sure bees are no longer actively visiting a site before spraying.