A bee die-off that could represent one of the largest mass bumblebee deaths ever reported in the United States was caused by the wrongful application of a pesticide. An update from The Oregonian revealed Friday that officials from the Oregon Department of Agriculture have now confirmed that the pesticide Safari killed the bees.
The linden trees on the grounds were sprayed with Safari last Saturday.
As I previously reported for The Inquisitr, the tragic rain of over 25,000 bumblebees began Monday in a Target parking lot outside Wilsonville, Oregon. Concerned shoppers phoned in complaints about the dying bees to The Xerces Society For Invertebrate Conservation.
Bee expert Rich Hatfield of Xerces set out to investigate. He photo-documented the huge bee die-off, sparking an investigation by Oregon's state agriculture authorities.
The Oregonian's Elizabeth Case also visited the scene, leaving a chilling report on the bees which were still falling and dying on Wednesday.
The pesticide Safari was spread on 55 linden trees around the parking lot to control aphids. However, the pesticide is also deadly to bees, and Safari's instructions say that it can't be used when bees are present.
Now state officials will investigate whether or not any laws were broken in the bee die-off. Pesticide compliance manager Dale Mitchell said the investigation could take up to four months.
In a 2012 paper co-authored by Rich Hatfield in 2012, Xerces explained that bumblebees are key pollinators because their large bodies allow them to be general pollinators who can assist in the reproduction of a large number of plants. That includes critical food crops in Oregon's Willamette Valley.
While the landowner and landscapers have not spoken out about the incident, they have now netted the linden trees to prevent any more bumblebees from feeding on the flowers and being affected by the pesticide.
But it's too soon to know who if anyone will face state or federal penalties in the bee die-off.
[bumblebee photo by Joaquim Alves Gaspar via Wikipedia Featured Picture of the Day]