Friday, September 02, 2016

Insecticide sprayed from air to fight Zika, without direct warning to beekeepers, kills many S.C. bees

Photo posted by Flowertown Bee and Farm Supplies
Millions of bees have been killed in Dorchester County, South Carolina, with an insecticide used to kill mosquitoes potentially carrying the Zika virus, Ben Guarino reports for The Washington Post. Beekeeper Juanita Stanley, co-owner of a bee farm that lost 46 hives—or 2.5 million bees—told reporters her farm “looks like it’s been nuked.”

Guarino writes, "In parts of South Carolina, trucks trailing pesticide clouds are not an unusual sight, thanks to a mosquito-control program that also includes destroying larvae. Given the current concerns of West Nile virus and Zika—there are several dozen cases of travel-related Zika in South Carolina, though the state health department reports no one has yet acquired the disease from a local mosquito bite—Dorchester decided to try something different Sunday."

"It marked a departure from Dorchester County’s usual ground-based efforts," Guarino writes. "For the first time, an airplane dispensed Naled in a fine mist, raining insect death from above between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Sunday. The county says it provided plenty of warning, spreading word about the pesticide plane via a newspaper announcement Friday and a Facebook post Saturday."

But after the bees perished, county officials apologized for that and failing to notify local beekeepers, The Associated Press reports. Bee City USA, a bee-protection group, said in a news release that it "encourages mosquito abatement districts across the country to provide beekeepers with ample notice of planned spraying so they can protect their hives as much as possible by covering them or moving them to a non-spray zone. By the same token, we encourage beekeeping chapters to meet with county officials in charge of vector control as soon as possible and each year to discuss mosquito control plans that protect pollinator health, and in the event of bee kills, how beekeepers will be compensated."

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