Millions of honeybees were killed in South Carolina this week after aerial spraying to kill mosquitoes known to carry the Zika virus took out the bees as well.
Juanita Stanley, the co-owner of Flowerton Bee Farm & Supplies in Summerville, South Carolina, told the Washington Post that she noticed something was amiss when she went to check on her bees and was met with silence.
“I have millions of bees, and usually, you can hear the buzzing and feel the energy, but it was silent. It was just devastation; there were piles of dead bees.”
— Zika News (@Zika_News) September 2, 2016
None of the bees in her 46 hives survived the spraying, Stanley said. It not only killed millions of bees, it ended her livelihood.
Stanley said she and other beekeepers in Dorchester, South Carolina, are trying to come to grips with the loss after authorities sprayed Trumpet, which contains the pesticide naled, from a plane.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, naled has been used since 1959 to control mosquitoes and is often used after a hurricane or floods to prevent mosquito-bourne illnesses. On its website, the EPA says there are some risks that honeybees could be killed but recommends spraying “between dusk and dawn, while bees are not typically foraging, can reduce exposure to honey bees.”
— CNN Health (@cnnhealth) September 2, 2016
The manufacturer’s label for Trumpet says the product is “highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment on blooming crops or weeds. To minimize hazard to bees, it is recommended that the product is not applied more than two hours after sunrise or two hours before sunset, limiting application to times when bees are least active.”
They also recommend beekeepers prevent bees from leaving the hive while spraying is underway.
However, one complaint by the beekeepers is the lack of public notification before the county began spraying on Sunday, according to ABC News 4.
Stanley said she rarely reads the paper, nor does she frequent social media, so she had no warning before the spraying began and killed her bees.
Dorchester County officials countered that they posted a notice about the spray on the county’s website on Friday, August 26 and posted a notice on Facebook on Saturday. They said they also notified many residents by phone, ABC News 4 reported.
— TODAY (@TODAYonline) September 2, 2016
Dorchester County Administrator Jason Ward told CNN the spray, which was the first spray in 14 years, was scheduled and carried out between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, when bees would be less active and people would most likely be indoors
“We chose Sunday morning because few people would be out and about that early on a weekend. To protect the bees, you don’t want to spray after the sun has been up more two hours, so we scheduled it early.”
Stanley said she will have to start over but concedes the endeavor will be long and difficult.
“Those that didn’t die immediately were poisoned trying to drag out the dead. Now, I’m going to have to destroy my hives, the honey, all my equipment. It’s all contaminated.”
Stanley said her hope is that her loss and the devastation suffered by other beekeepers in the area will force officials to reconsider how they deal with mosquitoes and how they notify the public.
“I don’t want this story to be just in the moment because, without honey bees, we can’t survive. We have to coexist.”
[Photo by Ted S. Warren/AP Images]