17 April 1997

Protect bees with spray safety code, warns CLA

FARMERS could face heavy fines if they destroy honey bees while spraying crops with pesticides.

The Country Landowners Association has urged producers to follow the governments code of spray safety to protect foraging bees which, the CLA says, make a vital contribution to boosting farm crop growth.

A spokesman reminded farmers that they were legally required to give local beekeepers associations at least 48 hours notice before using pesticides on their land. Producers also had a duty to avoid using pesticides that were harmful or dangerous to bees if crops or weeds were in open flower or part bloom, unless the product label specifically allowed this.

Farmers who ignore safety rules and cause the death of bees through crop spraying could be prosecuted and required to pay a maximum fine of £2000 in a magistrates court. This could be much higher in the Crown Court where there is no set maximum.

There are more than 200,000 bee colonies across the UK, owned by at least 40,000 beekeepers.