Thousands of bees dead, but inquiry closed
LENNOX Head vet Dr Matt Landos is far from impressed with the NSW Environment Protection Authority's inquiry into the deaths of tens of thousands of bees at Alstonville in September last year.
His main gripe is that the EPA investigated the wrong month for a potential source of the chemical, fipronil, which led to the bee deaths at three hives at three separate locations.
The inquiry focused on November but the bees died in September.
Dr Landos paid for a forensic research laboratory to analyse a sample of the dead bees to determine why they died and the results showed the bees had high levels of the chemical fipronil in them.
Dr Landos said he wasn't chasing a prosecution if the source of the chemical could be found, but rather to use any information an EPA investigation could glean as an educational tool to prevent further bee deaths.
While Dr Landos' speciality is in prawns and oysters, he said he kept an eye on research to do with terrestrial invertebrates as often the issues facing the land-based critters was later mirrored in aquatic animals - the land-based insects are easier to study.
He said the mass deaths of bees warranted an investigation as bees had a high sensitivity to chemicals and acted like a barometer for the health of the environment.
He said bee populations around the world were declining, and the insect was crucial for pollination.
He said about 30 to 40 per cent of the world's food sources relied on bees for pollination.
However, the EPA's response to Dr Landos this month was that the case was now closed.
The EPA said, while bees generally foraged about 2km from their hive, some flew as far as 12km, and there were up to 177 products with fipronil as the active ingredient including insecticides, termiticides and household insecticides.
The EPA said that made pinpointing a source for the bee deaths almost impossible.
"The EPA determined that it was not an efficient use of public funds to allocate significant resources to the investigation given the low probability of success," the EPA said.
"The EPA encourages all pesticide users to carefully follow label directions and to avoid times of the day when bees will be actively foraging.
"However, if people are spraying pesticide in the times when bees are not foraging the weather conditions are still required to be suitable for spraying."