Mass bee deaths – now there is a natural solution to pest controlPaul Jackson
A ‘witches brew’ of pesticides and fungicides has been identified by scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture as being the cause of the destruction of 10 million beehives across the US.
Researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast and fed it to healthy bees, which lowered their resistance to a parasite called Nosema ceranae (microsporidian), thought to be linked with Colony Collapse Disorder.
The pollen was contaminated with nine different pesticides and fungicides, and one sample contained 21, according to the study in the journal PLOS ONE. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.
“Healthy bees are essential for the pollination of all our crops, without them the world will not be able to feed itself,” said Dr Minshad Ansari, Managing Director of Welsh biocontrol company Bionema.
“Already the EU has banned many of the traditional chemical products, a large percentage of which had become ineffective in any event, as part of its programme of reducing the risk to food contamination,” he said.
The Swansea University based research and development company only last month launched its own first range of products after extensive testing, aimed at the horticulture, agriculture and amenity sectors.
These natural pest control products make sense financially as well, with a unique new UK nematode three component NemaTrident® programme that boasts 20% more efficiency and up to 95% kill rates, using different species of naturally occurring, beneficial insect-parasitic nematodes from the Heterorhabditis and Steinernema genera.
The NemaTrident® three component solution provides protection against a wide range of agricultural, horticultural, amenity and forestry pests, ultimately increasing yields and improving plant growth for effective and sustainable agriculture.
“Growers, greenkeepers and foresters using our new NemaTrident® three component solution can expect highly effective pest control from a novel package aimed at maximising profits and keeping down costs” said Dr Ansari. “We have field results showing that the product itself is incredibly effective, and by offering training to operators we can ensure the best possible results.”
The company has developed specific nematodes for specific problems such as NemaTrident® CT (cold tolerant) and NemaTrident® H – for vine weevil control in horticultural crops; NemaTrident® C – for chafer grub control and NemaTrident® L – for leatherjacket control in golf course and sport field; NemaTrident® S – for Sciarid larvae control in mushroom industry, NemaTriden® T – for codling moth control in fruit trees and forest and NemaTrident® F – for western flower thirp control in soft fruit and flowers. The range provides 70-100% kill rates and fills the gap in the market caused by the de-listing of many traditional pesticides
“Our field trials over the last two years in the horticultural and forestry included different nematode species, and our special solution provided 20-30% higher control than existing products in the market – with an up to 99% kill rate – without putting our essential bee populations at risk,” said Dr Ansari. “With our new product portfolio, Bionema provides organic growers with complete chemical free pest solutions which will reduce costs and increase yields.”
NemaTrident® is available to professional growers in the UK and EU through dedicated distributors and direct through Bionema.