A few days ago, I read an interesting American Bee Journal article by Tammy Horn (et al.) and it made me think differently about something. Although I know that poisoned bees represent a real crime, I never really thought of poisoned bee yards as literal ‘crime scenes’.
In her informative and engaging article, Kentucky’s chief apiarist, Tammy Horn, explains that we need to adopt the mindset that dead bees need inspected responsibly – like police would do at a crime scene. Don’t scoop dead bees into a baggie and ship them off. If a farmer or agri-business has misused pesticides, they have committed a crime. Crimes need undisturbed evidence for successful prosecution. Ms Horn writes, “When dealing with a possible pesticide kill, time is not on your side. You need to get a sample taken as soon as possible. If you want to take legal action…the sample must be collected by a regulatory official.”
I hadn’t really considered that a crime is a crime and a crime scene can be a bee yard. If you start cleaning things up improperly, you may impair future litigation and possible recovery of losses. Before securing your equipment and helping any surviving hives, the best immediate action is to call your regional chief inspector and ask for advice.
Horn’s article helps us to recognize chemical bee kills, collect samples (when appropriate), report losses, and take pro-active steps to protect honey bees and native pollinators. I won’t repeat it all here, you should read her article in the bee journal. If you don’t already receive ABJ, consider ordering it or perhaps get your bee club or library to subscribe. Though I’m not going to detail Tammy Horn’s information, I am going to list some of the links she gave in her article: