Cooperation is Key to Avoiding Pesticide-Bee Problems


HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Department of Agriculture reminds pesticide users that summer blooms attract bees and it is illegal to apply most insecticide products when bees are present.


Federally-approved pesticide labels are the law when it comes to using pesticides, says Patricia Denke, Pest Management Program manager. Links on the department's website at provide information on protecting bees and locating hives in the vicinity of intended pesticide applications. Guidelines for protecting bees from insecticides were developed by the department after consultation with both beekeepers and pesticide applicators.


Monitoring crop insect development, making plans ahead of time and considering alternatives are key for protecting pollinators, says Amy Bamber, Technical Services Bureau chief for the department. In some cases, landowners might choose to harvest a hay crop early, for example. Insecticide baits might be used for insects such as grasshoppers to avoid chemical contact with pollinators.

Printed labels of insecticide products contain precautionary statements regarding bees. These have the force of law, and ignoring the instructions can make applicators liable for damage to honeybee colonies.


Communication between beekeepers and applicators is essential, Denke says. Conflicts sometimes arise when new owners or renters take over bee locations or crop land and are unaware of existing agreements.


For more information, visit the department website at or contact Ian Foley at (406) 444-9430 or Amy Bamber at (406) 444-5400, or both by e-mail at


Published: July 8, 2010 4:43:00 PM MDT.
Last Modified: September 14, 2011 4:09:05 PM MDT