Over 50 beekeepers in Zolochev and Bohoduhiv districts located 70 km from Kharkiv have raised the alarm because of the sudden mass deaths of thousands of bees in their private apiaries between 7 to 11 June.
People state that on June 7, the local Skovoroda agro company sprayed pesticides over their pea crops. Subsequently, the massive loss of bees occurred in Skovorodynivka, Pysarivka, Malyzhyne, Ryasne, Velyka Rohozianka, Tsapivka and other villages of the Kharkiv region, at a radius of 7-8 km from the agro company’s field.
Up to 80-90 percent of all bees in that area died, claims a shocked beekeeper Yuriy Pavlenko.
“It is important to understand that other pollinators of orchards, vegetable gardens and agricultural crops also died along with bees. This is a serious disastrous impact on the regional economy and the environment. Many residents of these villages lost their livelihood, as bees and gardens were all their families have lived on,” Pavlenko notes.
Serhiy Kuptsov, whose apiary is located 5 kilometers from the crop spraying incident, says that only five bee colonies survived out of his 40 hives. Outraged local residents searched the company’s pesticide store and found it full of empty poisonous insecticide cans.
”The insecticide they used is called Antikollorad, which active ingredient is imidacloprid. This pesticide is prohibited in many countries, as it is lethal for honey and wild bees. It is also dangerous for people. Its poison is slow acting, and the bees do not die at once but bring the poisoned nectar and pollen to their hive, where they start dying within 3 days,” says Serhiy Kuptsov.
Imidacloprid was banned for all outdoor uses by member states of the European Union in April 2018 as one of the three main neonicotinoids, including clothianidin, and thiamethoxam. Therefore some agricultural companies of Ukraine have violated the EU regulations. Several cases of bee extermination are also reported in other areas of the Kharkiv region. In an apiary of Zmiyv district, only one bee colony survived out of the dozens. Also, bad news concerning the loss of bees arrives from all over Ukraine this summer.
Currently, Skovoroda agro company rejects their complicity in bee extermination. According to its management, they have been using the chemical for more than 5 years and it did not kill the bees en masse.
The pre-trial investigation was commenced on this single fact after the beekeepers reported it to the police.
Also, the victims of the bee poisoning file a petition to the Ukrainian parliament, demanding to ban bee-harming pesticides, containing imidacloprid and consider the incident to be on a scale with an ecological disaster.
Text: Olena Sokolynska
Photo: Yuriy Pavlenko