Borderland beekeepers and farmers at odds after EPA approves a pesticide harmful to bees

Agriculture

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Late summer is the time of year we see a lot of bees and farmers hard at work preparing crops for harvest. However, after the July approval of a pesticide called Sulfoxaflor, many beekeepers and farmers are at odds.

Sulfoxaflor helps protect crops from harmful insects and pests. However, many bee experts fear it will hurt the bee population even more. They say a pesticide is only a short term solution, but it can have a long term effect on bees.

“Remember whenever you spray pesticides into the air it lands on everything. And what happens when it lands on plants and things that they pollinate its like a virus. They’ll go and pick that up and then take that back to their hive,” said Pyong Livingston the owner of Freedom Bee Removal in El Paso.

According to the EPA Sulfoxaflor is less harmful to pollinators than other pesticides. They say it’s an effective tool for growers and has a lower environmental impact because it disappears from the air faster than other pesticides do.

Restrictions on the pesticide that have been removed include that it can be used on bee-attractive crops. However, only when there is low risk or limited potential for exposure to bees.

One Borderland watermelon farmer who sells his watermelons out of his truck every day said he fears that without pesticides he wouldn’t have a crop.

“The pest dries the leaf of the watermelon and the plant no longer grows the fruit. And the watermelon field, it no longer grows with the pests,” Domingo Castillo explained.

The EPA advises growers to warn beekeepers within a one-mile radius before spraying Sulfoxaflor. Giving them at least 48 hours notice ahead of time so they have enough time to protect their bees.

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