Good evening Homer beekeepers, friends and neighbors
We can all see the devastation around us of our infested spruce trees particularly on the bench. I am sure most of you know the damage we are seeing is done by a Spruce Aphid that came first to Halibut Cove and moved over to Homer in June of 2015. Trees became heavily intensified with our warm winter.
I have 8 spruce trees on our property that I planted in 92 and 93. They are now infested, as is most of McLay Road area, all along the bench and East End Road. I had the tree doctor out this week to take a look at my trees. He explained the type of aphid attacking our trees is A-sexual, therefore born pregnant. It will be an ongoing battle until our winter temperatures reach 14 degrees and kill the aphids. The trees are not dead and may recover over time, the ends of the branches may produce green buds in the spring, but the center of the trees will look dead. If you live above 900 feet, you may not have any problems with these aphids. The treatment Arborists offers for killing the spruce aphid is a systemic Insecticide made by Pointer called Imidacloprid, using a Direct Inject system into the bark of the tree. www.arborsystems.com
The insecticide travels when the sap is running, as it is now. As beekeepers, you realize the bees gathers sap to make propolis they use in the hive to seal cracks in the supers. If you have many other sources of pollen, nectar and sap, your bees may not visit a treated spruce tree within their flights patterns. Many people are treating their trees through Arborists or buying systemic insecticides from stores and using them. Even if you are not doing the treatments, many folks around you are.
There is a product called Pirimor 50 also called Aphox made by Syngenta Corporation which claims it is not toxic to honeybees and other pollinators. It is being used in Europe to combat aphids, but the Arborists cannot get it in the USA. The manufacture of the Aphox has to okay their product coming to the US, with a lot of red tape to bring it in and it is very expensive to buy. www.syngenta.com/global/corporate/SiteCollectionDocuments/pdf. (PDF attached) As one of our local long time beekeepers said "Insecticides kill insects. Bees are insects. So even if they don't directly kill a bee, they could weaken their systems, just the same as if you were taking a small dose of poison every day."
I don't know if any of you have thoughts on what we should do or not do, if you do have any suggestions, I would like to read them. After hearing from the Cooperative Extension in Soldotna, two beekeepers who's opinions I respect, the tree doctor and doing a lot of research on line, I am leaning towards NOT treating my trees, water them heavily and let nature take her course.