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Question about my hive

hi all, just wondering if anybody knows if there are any safe weeding sprays to use near beehives. My neighbour has told my husband that they are having Gardner’s in who will spray the weeds as part of their maintenance this week. She said she told them we had bees and they told her the spray was safe. Is there any such thing? Wondering what I can do to best protect my bees? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

No commercial weed spray if safe for bees. Any spray that gets onto flowers that the bees forage on will die. You could suggest to your neighbor that a mix of vinegar, salt and water will kill the weeds but not your bees.
I wonder if the gardeners are going to use ‘round-up’, the most common weed killer on the Australian market, which is banned in most of Europe. A lot of councils in Australia use it and being sued because there spraying employees have clusters of cancer. Some Australian councils have stopped using it.
An alternative, the only one that is safe, is to relocate your hives at least 5 klm’s away for a month till the weeds have died and dried out.

Hi @Beebaby.
Without knowing what exactly was in that spray it is hard to give you specific information.

Some herbicides popular in gardening in Australia:

Glyphosate also known as Roundup is a broad-spectrum herbicide, used for indiscriminate eradication of plants. Nasty stuff but has low toxicity for bees. There are negative effects if they forage on plants that were sprayed, mainly affecting bee cognitive and sensory abilities. Here is a long read on the subject for those who interested in details.

MCPA and Dicamba - herbicides targeting broad-leaf plants. In gardening they are mainly used to keep lawns free of weeds. Both have low toxicity for bees on direct contact.

If something of above was used, I wouldn’t worry much unless it was sprayed directly into hive or plants that were sprayed is a source of nectar and pollen at the moment.

Thank you @ABB and @Peter48 for your responses.

Nothing has been sprayed as yet. My neighbour has been kind enough to warn us, so I will ask her Gardener today if he can show me what he intending to use. My bees don’t forage in my neighbours property as far as I can see.

My husband is going to offer to spray the area with a salt and vinegar mix as an alternative to the commercial spray if they will allow us? We are happy to offer to maintain the weeds in the area for them - which would hopefully result in a win/win for both of us.

I totally understand their need to keep the weeds under control, but would really like to not have my bees harmed in the process.

I’ve read so much conflicting advice on the internet. 50% say any spraying is harmful, and the other 50% saying its fine.

Moving my hives 5kms is not an option for me unfortunately.

Having you husband spray the weeds with something that won’t harm the bees would be an excellent win-win result.
That 50% say a herbicide won’t harm bees isn’t surprising. Sadly it only says that 50% of the people are ignoring the proven facts. That research by medical and scientific people who don’t have a vested interest have proven that products like round-up, for example, have caused cancer to humans that use it and many on this forum have lost bee colonies affected by its use speaks volumes.
Far better to be cautious with that sort of stuff in my opinion when safer options can be used.

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My weed control method is hand pulling, and whipper snipping, and densely plant the plants I want to smother weeds.

It is very hard for the lay person to make any meaningful conclusions of what is harmful and what is not. Every one can set up a slick website to claim whatever they want and push their agenda. A quick google search on the effects of glyphosate on bees ranges from harmless to killer. I do not have the resources, financial or intellectual, to test either claim.

To my annoyance, my neighbours and council use glyphosate in gardens and verges, and my bees do not drop dead the next day, but I do not know what other effects it may have on bee biology, or how much of it ends up in honey if flowers are sprayed too.

@Beebaby I think you are doing the best you can, and good on you to have concerns and enquire.

Thanks @Peter48 my husband spoke to the Gardner and he is using a “plant based acid” he says its 100% organic and will not harm the bees. But he is going to hand weed all around the garden beds near the bees and my husband will spray them with a salt vinegar solution.
I know my bees flight path is nowhere near that neighbours land- but I would be lying if I didn’t say I was totally anxious about it all.

Nonanoic acid (aka pelargonic acid) comes to mind. It is low to non-toxic for bees. Another positive thing, being short fatty acid it brakes down in environment much faster than non-organic herbicides.

North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services created a simple list of pesticides with their toxicity for bees.

Pesticide Toxicity to Bees “Traffic Light”

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Thank you ABB for that handy link. But it depends on how much you want to trust the above department and their sources for such lists.


I’m certainly not saying that the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are not trustworthy, because I now nothing about them, but I certainly wouldn’t put too much trust on my local council on such matters.

Sometime ago I came across an ongoing study, the link escapes me, regarding the long term effect of glyphosate in the soil on our native trees. It was thought they are not effected but there are signs that they are.


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To trust or not is a personal decision of cause. The list above, as I understand, is based US EPA Registration Eligibility Decision papers for each pesticide. Here is an example. Those documents include toxicity reports for various lifeforms. The list contains toxicity information relevant to bees only. This makes it a convenient quick reference for a long list of pesticides without diving in REDs for each one.

As to long-term effect on native trees… I thought the topic starter was worried more about immediate effect on her bees.

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