Malathion is harmful to bees, maintains head of beekeeping society
It was nearly fifty years ago, whilst living in Singapore as a young child, I recall the mossie man, who would, every afternoon, walk across gardens in the neighbourhood.
The ‘mossie man’, with a small noisy, high revving machine strapped to his back, it spewed out plumes of thick white smoke, sounding the daily death-knell for mosquitos numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
It was always a great time to go out and play after he walked through, nothing more than faint wisps of white smoke were left in his wake, along with the faint, memorable smell of diesel and water mix.
This cheap and effective insect killer is still in use today, compared to unchecked mosquito numbers, there is, of course, an overwhelming argument for mosquito management.
This diesel and water mix is better known today as #malathion, it is cheap and readily available globally.
Nearly fifty years after the mosquito man, little did I appreciate this deadly mix would also kill bees and possibly other insect pollinators.
Now an active beekeeper, being made aware of the dangers of old ways, it is a stark reality check.
Intentional or born out of innocence, once we become conscious of the damage we are causing, it is time to put away old ways.
With that said, we need affordable and readily available mosquito controls, there is work to do!
The president of the Antigua & Barbuda Beekeepers Cooperative Society said the main ingredient in the chemical solution that is used to destroy mosquitoes, also kills bees.
Last week, Chief Health Inspector Lionel Michael said the chemicals used to fog communities around the island to control mosquito infestation, was not dangerous to humans or animals.
But Jerome Henry said there are numerous studies to support his opinion that the white cloud of smoke destroys colonies of bees, which play a very important role in plant and human life.
“The formula is malathion, diesel and water that is misted through an engine so it creates a very fine mist and droplets which adhere to the insect and causes it to die. It is a broad spectrum pesticide that does not discriminate, so once you spray that pesticide it will cause most insects to die,” Henry explained.
In addition to fogging, the head of the beekeepers society said farmers use malathion to spray their crops and foraging bees can come into contact with the concentrated chemicals, which inhibits their ability to breath.
He noted that controlling the mosquito population is paramount, but it should not be to the detriment of the bees. Henry said based on his research, no insect has become resistant to malathion, hence the reason it is used widely, globally.