Auckland bee park sprayed with toxic chemicals by council

Author
NZ Herald staff,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 13 June 2017, 2:48PM
Waitemata Local Board representative Rob Thomas amongst the dead plants in Hakanoa Reserve Park, a designated bee pollinator zone Auckland Transport sprayed with weed killer (Jason Oxenham).
Waitemata Local Board representative Rob Thomas amongst the dead plants in Hakanoa Reserve Park, a designated bee pollinator zone Auckland Transport sprayed with weed killer (Jason Oxenham).

Bee-lovers are devastated after their community garden was sprayed by Auckland Transport with weedkiller in an act of "eco-vandalism".

An Auckland Transport contractor sprayed the Grey Lynn park last week.

The Pollinator Park in Hakanoa Reserve is on Auckland Council's "no spray" list.

Landscape architect Andrea Reid, who has spent over a year designing and working on the park, said the mistake was frustrating and devastating.

"We've put a lot of work into this. It could have a devastating effect on the pollinators we've spent the last six months trying to help.

"[Poison] changes their directional path which means they can't find the hive when they are returning to it. You don't see a bunch of dead bees, you just notice they are not there any more."

The Pollinator Park in Hakanoa Reserve, Grey Lynn is home to three hives of bumble bees, leaf cutter bees and wild bees as well as other pollinators like butterflies, insects and birds. The park was designed with a delicate eco-system of specific plants to support the bees.

Reid said without pollinators over one-third of food sources would disappear.

The park received a $7500 community grant from the Waitemata Local Board.

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said the contractor used the herbicide Bio-Safe which is not toxic to bee populations.

"The contractor sprayed along the road corridor by the park.

"AT doesn't have a contract for glyphosate spraying in the central urban area and the contractor has confirmed it hasn't been used by accident."

Waitemata Local Board representative Rob Thomas has called the incident "eco-vandalism".

"The damage depends on what type of spray is used. If it's neonicotine that's devastating. It is like using a nerve gas that would kill off any insect or bug."

The New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency ruled that no spraying of neonicotinoids can be carried out near hives or on plants bees are foraging or plants that are flowering.

Thomas said even if "trigger-happy" contractors hadn't directly sprayed the bees the habitat was still infected. Additionally killing plants would diminish their food source which was scarce in winter anyway.

Thomas said a similar thing had happened in Newmarket Park about two years ago. A contractor had sprayed the edge of the garden and killed off nearby native plants which had been nurtured from seeds in a local resident's back garden.

"As you can imagine it was very stressful for local residents who'd put a lot of voluntary labour into something.

"We need assurance they are not going to do this in the future."

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