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Volume 893: debated on Wednesday 11 June 1975

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment has been made of the likely danger to bees derived from the expansion of the bean and oilseed rape crops with the consequential use of sprays; and what advice is being offered to minimise such danger.

Statistics so far available do not show whether the number of incidents involving damage to bees has increased with the acreage under field beans and oilseed rape, but my right hon. Friend accepts that the risks from spraying must be greater where more of these crops—which are so attractive to bees—are grown. These risks can best be countered by care on the part of farmers and contractors and by their co-operation with local beekeepers. The Ministry, in co-operation with the pesticides industry, has accordingly stepped up its efforts to provide detailed advice to all concerned, and particularly that they should wherever possible select for use those insecticides and formulations which are less toxic to bees, avoid spraying at flowering stage and spray in the early morning or late evening, and maintain liaison with beekeepers to let them know of their spraying plan in good time.