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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

May 15, 2018 - 2:50pm -- Anonymous

Don’t forget about our pollinators during planting.  OSU Extension bee specialist Reed Johnson along with OSU Extension field crop entomology specialists Kelley Tilmon and Andy Michel offer the following thoughts regarding honeybees during the planting season.

“May is an important period for bee colony growth.  Unfortunately, corn planting can threaten colony growth.  Insecticide seed treatments used on corn seed generate an insecticidal dust during the planting process.  Bees may encounter the insecticidal dust as they cross corn fields to visit dandelions and blooming trees in field margins.  Insecticidal seed treatment dust can also settle on flowers that bees are visiting. Insecticide dusts are particularly harmful for honeybees because they do not immediately kill the adult foraging bees that encounter the insecticide. Instead, the dust is packed up with the pollen by the forager, brought back to the colony, and fed to young bees.  It is the future workforce of the colony that is hit hardest by corn planting-related seed treatment dust.  

Honey bee exposure to seed treatment dust during corn planting can be reduced by 1) starting with clean and weed-free fields that are uninteresting to honey bees; 2) following recommendations for using talc or other seed lubricants; 3) following proper planter clean-out and disposal procedures when finished to minimize escape of seed treatment dust.”