In the UK, September heralds the start of a new crop spraying season and while the moratorium on neonicotinoids is still in place, other insecticides are still in use.
The code for best agricultural practice calls for farmers to notify local beekeepers in advance when insecticides are to be applied, so that hives may be moved or closed up. However, this communication is not always done, no doubt beset for some with logistical and awareness issues. But on 12th September a new tool was launched to help all parties communicate more easily – BeeConnected is an online crop spraying registration and alert system for farmers and beekeepers alike.
Using this anonymous free online system, farmers can now identify their fields and inform local beekeepers registered on the system, with just a few clicks, when they intend to spray an insecticide in a particular field or fields – ideally giving at least 48hrs notice. Spraying contractors are also being encouraged to register.
Beekeepers will separately be able to map the general location of their bee hives and receive a notification when an insecticide spray event is due to take place within up to 5km of a hive – identifying the crop being sprayed and the compound to be applied. The locations of nearby hives will be visible to farmers, but no further information will be available (e.g. the identification of the user who has mapped them).
The system also includes a “BeeMail” facility which enables farmers and beekeepers to communicate anonymously, providing an opportunity for further discussion without revealing personal details, unless either party chooses to do so.
BeeConnected is an initiative of the BBKA, National Farmers Union and the Crop Protection Association. For further information and to register (as beekeeper or farmer), see the website, FAQ and BBKA Press Release.