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Insecticide prime suspect in Nantou County bee deaths

蜜蜂大量暴斃 殺蟲劑芬普尼惹的禍?

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

Over the past month, beekeepers in Nantou County’s Puli Township, where beekeeping is important, have discovered bees dying off in large numbers. Initial estimates are that 4,000 beehives have been affected. The main culprit is suspected to be fipronil contaminants in pollen, although the agricultural authorities are yet to offer any clarification on this.


A Puli beekeeper surnamed Liang interviewed on Thursday said that there are a total of 270 hives on his bee farm, and each hive can sustain 30,000 to 40,000 bees. He recently discovered that the bees were gradually dying off. He initially put it down to a one-off phenomenon, but the situation went from bad to worse from mid- to late August, with almost half the population of one hive dying off.


Many other beekeepers have discovered a similar situation, and although the exact number of bee deaths has yet to be calculated, the losses are considerable. The authorities carried out an on-site inspection last Tuesday to obtain more information, and are not ruling out the possibility that it has been caused by recent pesticide spraying on betel nut trees. They have collected samples of dead bees on which to carry out further tests, to ascertain the real reason behind their deaths.


According to Nantou County Department of Agriculture Director Chen Jui-ching, bees are designated as an environmentally sensitive species, and are vulnerable to climate factors — such as last year’s mass deaths due to the cold snap — and agricultural chemicals. As the weather has not been as hot as in previous years, farmers suspect the large numbers of bee deaths have been caused by bees returning to the hive with contaminated pollen, which have then affected the other bees in the colony.


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