Insecticide scare in the Western Cape

Wine farmers in the Western Cape, South Africa have used a Fipronil based insecticide to rid themselves of their ant problem for many years. However, recently, Ashly-Cooper, the Vice Chairman  of the Western Cape Bee Industry Association, has claimed that the use of this insecticides has killed over one million bees in the Western Cape area in 2018.

He has lost 30 to 40 percent of his bee hives this year, he believes,  to the insecticide which disrupts the central nervous system and causes Colony Collapse Disorder in Bees.

Massive egg scare in Europe and Asia blamed on the use of Fipronil

In 2013, the use of a Fipronil based  detergent wash was restricted within the European Union, when  the insecticide was found in eggs. The European Union ordered the destruction of millions of eggs, from 12 different member countries once it was established that the use of this detergent to wash away mites in chicken farms had caused the eggs to be contaminated and unfit for consumption.

The Netherlands were the most affected and it was a devastating blow to their egg production business.

It was later realised that eggs in parts of Asia where similarly contaminated. Some chicken meat products that had been exported to South Africa were also tested and found to contain minute traces of the insecticide.

South Africa continues to use Fipronil

The South African Government has been called to intervene. They state that they are awaiting confirmation that the Bees’ cause of death is indeed the Fipronil used by the wine farmers. If established, they will look at the alternatives open to them.

In other areas of Africa this insecticide is used extensively to control locusts and fleas.

Some eggs have been tested in South Africa and have been found to contained minute amounts of the insecticide.

What can be done?

President Obama took steps in 2004-2005 to ensure the recovery of the American bee population after it was devastated by varroa mites. He restored 7 million acres of bee habitat. Using a land strip method South Africa could do the same ensuring the much needed bees are safe from similar devastation.

Suzanne Harley-Davies

A UK qualified Corporate and Commercial lawyer turned freelancer. Suzanne breeds Olympic standard event horses, which sell all over all over the world. She's been living in Cape Town for the European winter months for the last 15 years and travelling to many parts of Africa each year. She loves the country and its people.

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