Beekeeper blames Dicamba drift for low honey production

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A familiar problem for Arkansas farmers is now affecting other businesses.

Crop farmers are not the only ones who have seen the wayward effects of Dicamba, the herbicide that is currently under a 120-day ban by the Arkansas State Plant Board because it is known to drift onto non-resistant plants and kill them.

The family-owned Coy Honey Farms is the largest commercial beekeeping business in Arkansas.

Richard Coy's grandfather began producing honey in the 1960s, but this year they have faced a new problem that has hurt their harvest significantly.

The farm has seen 30% less honey production this year than in the past.

Coy first noticed a problem in the summer when plants that usually provide pollen and nectar for the bees were not blooming.

He found out that Dicamba, which was not sprayed on the farmland his bees were kept on, had drifted into the area and killed a primary pollinator called Red Vine.

"Dicamba, it appears, is affecting more than people realize," Coy said. "It's not just affecting crops. It affects everything in nature. This herbicide is a synthetic hormone, so any vegetation it touches, it has the potential to damage the vegetation."

Coy said there isn't anything they can do to solve the problem in Arkansas, so his family is moving their bees to the Mississippi Gulf Coast quicker this year to get a good pollen source and maintain the hive populations.

He did testify before the plant board about the effects of Dicamba on bees, saying "use of Dicamba or other synthetic-auxin herbicides with widespread planting of herbicide-resistant crops will need to be carefully stewarded to prevent potential disturbances of plant and beneficial insect communities in agricultural landscapes."

Coy said he appreciates farmers for letting his family use their land. He just wants to find a solution that works for everyone.

"I understand that farmers need technology to keep their crops clean, but we need technology that can stay in the field and not damage other people's property," he said.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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