Honey bee foraging from akatea (Metrosideros perforata) flowers
Image: Jeremy Rolfe | Creative Commons


There is a very low risk to honeybees and honey products from the use of 1080.

DOC precautions to help keep honeybees safe

Before a 1080 operation, we consult with landowners, occupiers and concessionaires within and adjacent to the operational area and bait loading site. We ask about any beekeeping activity and ensure beekeepers are informed about the operation. We then provide information about the research and best practices relating to honeybees and 1080.

During the operation, we take measures to reduce the very low risk to honeybees, such as minimising the time that large quantities of bait are exposed at helicopter loading sites.

We also look closely for any unusual bee behaviour. If honeybees are observed foraging on 1080 bait at a loading site, we'll try to contact the relevant beekeeper and the operation will be immediately halted until the behaviour can be prevented.

Guidance for beekeepers and landowners

While the risk to honeybees from 1080 operations is very low, beekeepers are encouraged to assess factors such as food availability that may affect the risk to their hives. Beekeepers are also best placed to make decisions about the location of their hives in relation to 1080 operations.

If landowners or beekeepers have questions or concerns about an upcoming predator control operation near them, they can contact their local DOC office.

For questions relating to food safety and 1080, beekeepers can contact the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).

The MPI website has general information on the legal requirements and standards for producing and exporting honey: Honey and bee products processing requirements.

Report suspected foraging of 1080

The green dye used in bait pellets helps indicate whether honeybees have foraged on bait and deposited it in a hive.

If a green colouration is observed in some cells, or if it was suspected that bees from a particular apiary had been foraging on toxic bait, this should be reported to MPI who would determine whether to test the hive for residual toxic agents. You should also alert your local DOC office.

Research about 1080 and honeybees

Where there is sufficient food available, honeybees from healthy, unstressed hives are unlikely to be attracted to 1080 bait pellets.

While it's very rare, under certain conditions honeybees might show an interest in 1080 bait. If honeybees are foraging for protein when there is a lack of pollen in the environment and poor weather, they may be attracted to 1080 bait and this can be fatal for them.

If honeybees are observed foraging 1080 bait in this way, there is still a very low risk of contaminating honey in hives. This is because any 1080 residue stored in the hives would be in the brood frames, and bee keepers avoid harvesting from brood frames.

Honeybees are only likely to encounter large quantities of 1080 bait while it is concentrated in one location (for example, a loading site), rather than after individual pellets are distributed over a wide area.

The potential for foraging honeybees to encounter dust from 1080 operations has also been researched.

The study did not find 1080 in samples of bees, pollen and nectar from hives that were deliberately placed within the boundary of an aerial predator control operation.

There were no detectable 1080 particles or residues on gorse and tamingi flowers, which were the main source of forage for bees in the area.

More information on these trials by Plant and Food Research can be found on the OSPRI website: 1080 and bees (PDF, 152K) 

Download a factsheet

Honeybees and 1080 – information for beekeepers (PDF, 270K)

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