Driftwatch helps identify pesticide-sensitive crops and beehives

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Farmers and pesticide applicators will find more pesticide-sensitive crops and beehive locations on Driftwatch, an interactive Beesstate website.

“Everything (registered) went up in every category this year,” reported Warren Goetsch, Bureau Chief of Environmental Programs with the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA).

Through Driftwatch, farmers and beekeepers voluntarily register, map pesticide-sensitive locations online, and provide their contact information at no charge. The site is intended for commercial operations, not small gardens.

Earlier this year, Driftwatch provided locations for 1,309 bee hives; 4,726 certified organic acres and 4,005 organic acres; 1,366 fruit acres; 589 grape acres; 3,041 vegetable acres; and 429 organic livestock acres.

Pesticide applicators may register and sign up for electronic notification when sensitive locations are registered within their service areas. About 80 pesticide applicators registered on the website.

Any visitor may use the interactive Driftwatch map and search for pesticide-sensitive sites, and contact information. Neighboring farmers, pesticide applicators and others may visit at www.il.driftwatch.org.

IDOA hopes to increase communication among farmers, specialty growers and beekeepers. Farmers may find locations of nearby hives, denoted by a “b” on the site state map. The telephone number for a beekeeper who owns a particular hive is available by clicking on the “b” icon.

IDOA encourages farmers and pesticide applicators to contact beekeepers before applying pesticides so the beekeepers may take precautions.

On a related front, the American Seed Trade Association encourages farmers to review safe practices for planting, handling, managing and storing treated seed to minimize the potential risk to the environment, bees and other non-target organisms. For more information, visit www.seed-treatment-guide.com.

 Communication tips for beekeepers

Beekeepers face a tough challenge in keeping bees healthy. Communication with neighboring farmers and growers plays a key role. Additional tips are listed here:

  • Use best management practices to monitor hives.
  • Talk with local farmers and adjust your practices accordingly.
  • Plan to restrict bees’ crop access during the beginning and end of bloom –- key pest management times for blooming crops.
  • Temporarily restrict bee foraging when farmers are planting or applying pest control.
  • Register and map hive locations on Driftwatch. Provide contact information for farmers and pesticide applicators.

Content provided by FarmWeek writer, Kay Shipman

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