A Canadian company has just been granted approval by the EPA to use bees to treat crops with fungicide
Spotted: Toronto-based Bee Vectoring Technologies (BVT) has been granted permission to use bees to deliver fungicide to commercial crops. This is the first time the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved any product for delivery by bees.
BVT’s organic CR-7 fungicide is a powder used on crops such as strawberries, blueberries, apples, sunflowers and tomatoes. It helps fight off the botrytis fungus, which causes a grey mould to grow on fruit.
The powder is placed on trays outside beehives of commercially-reared bees. As the bees leave the hive, the powder is tracked onto their feet. When the bees then land on a plant, the fungicide falls onto the plant. The method of application does not harm the bees and allows the fungicide to be delivered in a more targeted way than with spraying.
There is some evidence, from studies performed by BVT, that the fungicide can help increase the yield of some fruits, and could possibly help keep berries fresh for longer.
BVT’s bee-delivery system can also be used by farmers for pollination, to replace hand pollination in crops such as kiwis. In addition, rather than plant male plants, which do not bear fruit, farmers can plant 100 per cent female plants. They can also place male pollen on BVT’s trays, allowing the bees to pollinate the plants in the same way they apply the fungicide.