Code of Practice to Prevent Bee Poisoning in Fresh Market Sweet Corn

Factsheet - ISSN 1198-712X   -   Copyright King's Printer for Ontario
Agdex#: 253/616
Publication Date: 05/09
Order#: 08-031
Last Reviewed: 08/09
Written by: Elaine Roddy - Vegetable Crops Specialist/OMAFRA; and Doug McRory - Provincial Apiarist/OMAFRA

It is important to protect bees when spraying insecticides. Honeybees, as well as other bees and insects, are important crop pollinators. Bees often visit sweet corn fields to collect water and pollen, especially during dry years, when wild sources of pollen become less available.

Most organophosphate and carbamate insecticides are highly toxic to bees.

Communication between sweet corn growers and beekeepers is vital to help prevent bee poisonings associated with sweet corn. Actions are required on the part of both the beekeeper and the grower in order to prevent hive and crop losses.

Sweet corn growers:

  • Be aware of any bee hives in your area especially if there are crops that require pollination by bees.
  • The pesticides that are most toxic to bees include label statements designed to prevent bee poisonings. Always refer to and follow the product label of a pesticide for minimum precautions and safety measures.
  • Wherever possible, avoid spraying sweet corn while the tassels are producing pollen. Spraying after 7 PM when the bees are not foraging is a good preventative practice. If this is not possible, spray before sunrise.
  • Prevent drift. Do not apply pesticides on windy days.
  • If possible, choose a product or a formulation that is less hazardous to bees.
  • Advise local beekeepers before you apply a pesticide, so that they may take additional precautions to protect their bees. Contact the Provincial Apiarist at 1-888-466-2372 for a list of the beekeepers in your area.


  • Register your bees and hives with the Provincial Apiarist.
  • Be aware of the crops within the forage range of your colonies to determine if sweet corn or other crops dependent on insecticide treatments are being grown.
  • Notify neighbouring sweet corn growers o the location of your hives, including hives rented out for pollination purposes.

If a natural water source is not available, provide supplemental water to the colonies to discourage them from entering corn fields to collect water from the leaf axils. To allow bees to land without drowning, place floating sticks in a shallow tub of water.

Notwithstanding this code of practice, beekeepers and pesticide users are reminded to ensure compliance with all relevant legislation.

In order to facilitate communications, copies of this Code of Practice will be sent to all registered beekeepers in Southwestern Ontario. A copy of the Code of Practice will accompany all purchases of Furadan insecticide. It will also be posted on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs website.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300