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Harmful pesticides threaten apiary business in Rubirizi district

Rubirizi, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Beekeepers in the Rubirizi district are concerned about the death of bees resulting from the use of pesticides.

Vincent Kakye, the General Secretary Magambo Beekeepers Association says the district is experiencing a decline in the population of bees because of the use of harmful pesticides.

Kakye says that the continued death of bees and their migration is threatening apiary business in the area and has also led to a drastic reduction of honey collected from the district.

Simon Abanyu, a beekeeper and the proprietor of Delta Bees Uganda Limited says that Rubirizi district on average used to produce over 45 tons of honey annually but last year they produced only 30 tons.

He says farmers are advised to spray the pesticides in the evening when bees have returned to their hives, but most farmers spray early in the morning when bees are looking for nectar.

He now wants the government to sensitize farmers about the chemicals being applied to crops in the gardens and emphasis spraying in the evening and not in the morning.

Aventino Byamukama, a bee farmer and member of Magambo Bee Keepers Association says they started the association to sell honey in bulk and they have observed a decline in honey production. He says changing seasons have affected their projects noting that the fewer showers of rain and prolonged dry season have also led to low production of honey.

Geoffrey Isemusoro, the Rubirizi district entomologist says that some fungicides and herbicides like Bacillus thuringiensis are relatively non-toxic to bees and can generally be used without serious harm.

He says that highly toxic pesticides cannot be applied to budding crops when bees are present and among the high-risk pesticides are diazinon, Imidan, malathion, and Sevin.

Isemusoro says they have started sensitizing farmers about the types of non-toxic pesticides they should use.

Beekeeping is one of the common income and livelihood activities in Rubirizi and boosts 1,747 apiary farmers. The district also harvests 45 tons of honey annually.

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