Border Bees Diary

Diary of a Beekeeper in the Scottish Borders


Posted by borderglider on May 23, 2008

Bayer -the giant multinational pesticide manufacturer is actively using the name and logo of the British Beekeeping Association to promote and sell an insecticide called ‘DECIS’. Take a look at their ‘advert’ at:


“decis is endorsed by the British Bee Keepers Association when used according to the following guidelines:

  • Spray in the evening or very early morning when fewer bees are foraging.
  • Take care to prevent drift toward hives in the treated field.
  • Avoid triazole fungicide tank mixes.
  • Give local beekeepers as much notice as possible.

Bayer goes on to say that the active insecticide is DELTAMETHRIN and that . . . .

” you can be sure that all the active ingredient you spray will be insecticidal. This is coupled with a long duration of activity, rapid knockdown and short pre-harvest intervals.”


Here we have our national beekeeping organisation accepting large sums of cash from Bayer – for endorsing an insecticide as being “bee friendly”; when Bayer’s own marketing blurb stresses that this is a ‘long duration insecticide’ with rapid ‘knock down’. It is appalling that – contrary to the stated objections of many of BBKA’s membership, the excutive has allegedly been in receipt of cash payments in the order of £20,000 per annum since 2003 – for endorsing pesticides which kill bees! You couldn’t make it up! This is the equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous taking cash from a whisky manufacturing company for endorsing their booze as being “friendly to alcoholics if consumed in the recommended dosage”.



  1. The BBKA’s position on pesticides is becoming increasingly untenable, especially with the recent mass killing by Bayer of German bees. BBKA members should petition the executive to withdraw from their contract with agri-corporations immediately.

  2. Peter Smith said

    This is quite an incredible story, and, remember it was only revealed to BBKA members through a query at a BBKA Meeting. The endorsement was not voted on prior to acceptance.
    BBKA has stated that they are not endorsing the product, only the method of application, with exhortations to Farmers and spray contractors to spray responsibly. This plea was of no concern to the farmer spraying oil seed rape in flower just before midday one day last week
    As we all know, the products are stated to have ‘fast knock down’, ‘long life’ etc. Not only do the products kill insects, there are learned papers published to the effect that they are dangerous to humans and the environment and highly toxic. Just read the product label to see the possible effects on operators using the product and precautions necessaary to prevent deleterious effects to human health.
    The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution recommended that much more research be carried out into these products.
    The BBKA states that there have been no losses of bees since the endorsements. A fundamental law of science is that it is not possible to prove a negative. Of the toal number of beekeepers, most are hobbyist mostly looking at their bees on weekly basis and not be able to say if the number of bees in any hive has reduced over the week. As the product label proudly states, there is ..’a fast knock-down..’ and any affected bees would find not find their way back to the hive..
    The products are tested for the L50 level and being used individually. Very little consideration has been given to the effectss of the products at sub-lethal levels and the effect of mixing cocktails of several products.
    ‘The Silence of the Bees’ currently being shown on TV gives graphic evidence of the problems of pesticide use where the products have completely wiped out bees in an area of China and pollination is now carried out by hand.
    Like many of today’s problems, the true picture will only be clear when it is too late.
    Peter Smith

  3. New research from China has shown that synthetic pyrethroids – the same chemicals (Bayvarol, Apistan) that we have been told to use in our hives against Varroa ever since it became a threat, and the very same chemicals that the British Bee Keepers Association cheerfully endorse as ‘bee friendly’ – are in fact toxic to bees and reduce the fertility of queens.

    This immediately raises the questions: why was this research not done BEFORE we were told to use them in our hives? And if it was done, how were the manufacturers allowed to fudge and/or conceal the results for so long?

    One of the substances under test was deltamethrin, the active ingredient in Decis, one of the BBKA-endorsed insecticides.

    The researchers say, “Compared to queens receiving clean sugar water, those in the pyrethroid groups were substantially less fecund. For instance, clean queens in 2006 laid a little more than 1,200 eggs each day, compared to not quite 900 a day in the bifenthrin group and roughly 600 per day in the deltamethrin group.”

    “The success rate of hatchlings, that is the share that reached adulthood, varied from 75 to 95 percent in the control hive – making it between 20 and 40 percentage points higher than in hives where bees had been exposed to a pyrethroid.”

    The research team conclude, “The impact of pesticides on the colony may be severe.”

    Bayer say that Decis “…is unique in having only one isomer of deltamethrin and this is the optimum isomer for insecticidal activity. …you can be sure that all the active ingredient you spray will be insecticidal. This is coupled with a long duration of activity, rapid knockdown and short pre-harvest intervals.”

    Dr Marianne Frazier concluded a recent Penn State report thus, “Unprecedented amounts of fluvalinate (up to 204 ppm) at high frequencies have been detected in
    brood nest wax, and pollen (bee bread). Changes in the formulation of fluvalinate resulting in a significant increase in toxicity to honey bees, makes this a serious concern.”

    So, we can conclude that either:

    (a) Bayer has always known that Bayvarol would damage bees, and just lied about it while they made a nice profit from exploiting beekeepers, or

    (b) they failed to conduct the necessary research before putting it on the market, and are thus guilty of fraud and negligence.

    So, Bayer – which is it?

    And will the BBKA now stop pretending that pyrethroids are somehow safe for bees, and clean up their act?

    Link to article: Widely Used Pesticides Found to Impair Bee Reproduction

    Link to article: High Levels of Miticides and Agrochemicals in North American Apiaries: Implications for Honey Bee Health

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