Sunday, July 23, 2017

WHEW! by beekeeper Fred

On Friday I heard a crop duster working the neighbors corn and bean fields.  Like Gerard this concerned me greatly.  I went and talked first with the neighbor.  He said the pilot was aware of my beehives and would not be spraying near them unless there was no wind or a wind out of the northeast which would tend to blow the chemicals away from my hives.  They were spraying a combination of fungicide and pesticide.  Corn cut worms were the pesticide target.

Friday night I also got a call from the pilot.  He was aware of all of my beehives having seen them in previous years from the air.  I queried him about DriftWatch.  He indicated that they utilize Drift Watch while making up their flight plan and encouraged me to sign up.  Also turned out I know him from another hobby pursuit.

Saturday afternoon about 3PM, after our club meeting, I heard the plane again and went to watch.  I looked at the weather and there was only a 2MPH wind speed. I got right under his flightpath so I could see what was happening.  The pilot leveled off at what seemed to be about only 10 feet above the corn.  The chemical plume didn't seem to spread more than 5 feet beyond plane's wingtip and quickly settled down to the corn.

My beehives are set back from the property line by about 150 feet except for one hive which is about 50 feet from the corn.  Four hours later I went up to the hives expecting the worst.  On the closest hive I saw two (2) twitching bees on the landing board.  Nothing abnormal on the remaining nine (9) hives.  I took another look this morning.  All appeared normal.  That closest hive was going full tilt out gathering nectar.  I popped off the outer and inner covers and the population seemed normal.

So I assume my hives were not hit by any overspray.  The two twitching bees were probably under the plane's flight path and came in direct contact with the pesticide.  I will be checking again tomorrow.

After this scare I will defintely be signing up at DriftWatch.

                                                        Gerard's hated yellow plane