A mass bee death occurred in South Carolina August 28, after parts of Dorchester County were sprayed with Naled by plane. Naled is a common insecticide that kills mosquitoes on contact and is also toxic to honey bees. It’s being used to thwart any potential Zika-carrying mosquitoes.
“Dorchester County is aware that some beekeepers in the area that was sprayed on Sunday lost their beehives,” Jason Ward, county administrator, said in a news release Tuesday. “I am not pleased that so many bees were killed,” he subsequently told the Charleston Post and Courier.
While Naled is toxic to bees, it does not always cause such devastation, as many counties choose to spray at night, when bees do not forage, and beekeepers can shield their hives. Bees were further exposed due to recent warm weather, hobby beekeeper Andrew Macke told the Washington Post, which causes bees to swarm outside the hive to keep cool.
Forty-six hives and 2.5 million honey bees died immediately after the Naled was sprayed at Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply. One local woman wrote on Facebook that walking through the farm was “like visiting a cemetery, pure sadness.”
“Had I known, I would have been camping on the steps doing whatever I had to do screaming, ‘No you can’t do this,’” beekeeper Juanita Stanley said in an interview with Charleston’s WCSC-TV.
The county says it provided warning of the spraying via newspaper announcement and Facebook the Friday and Saturday before the Sunday spray, respectively.
According to the news release, no additional spraying flights are scheduled for the area, and the County will send out notification of any future aerial sprayings three to five days in advance. “Additionally, the County will contact those beekeepers who are registered with the County directly by telephone or email,” the news release reads.
A local resident has started a Change.org petition calling for Dorchester County to stop aerial Naled spraying altogether.
Increased efforts to wipe out mosquitoes have been come about in parts of South Carolina, particularly due to current concerns over mosquito-borne West Nile and Zika viruses.
Air-spraying Naled is already common in other areas, such as Florida, where in one year more than six million acres were fumigated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Honey bee image via Shutterstock