Millions of bees dead after U.S. county releases Zika spray
Thursday, September 1, 2016, 8:33 PM - Beekeepers in Dorchester County, South Carolina, woke to a distressing sight on Sunday: millions of their bees had dropped dead.
The area is known for having a lively beekeeping community, the New York Times reports, which is why it didn't take long to figure out the cause of the death: an aerial spray used to target mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus.
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Despite having just four cases of Zika in Dorchester County, S.C., the pesticide was administered to control the regions mosquitoes, incidentally killing a large swath of the regions honeybee population.
Several reports say the hot weather left the bees even more exposed than usual. With temperatures exceeding 32 C, bees often leave the nest to cool down, huddling outside the hive in a ball formation known as a beard.
"My bee yard looks like its been nuked," Juanita Stanley, co-owner of Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply told The Post and Courier. Stanley's farm is estimated to have lost 46 hives on the spot, adding up to roughly 2.5 million bees, The Washington Post reports.
Naled -- the pesticide named culprit in the bees' deaths -- has been in use in the U.S. since 1959, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes. The spray was administered through parts of Dorchester County Sunday morning, part of an ongoing mosquito-control program used to combat West Nile and Zika.
But Dorchester County usually administers mosquito control via ground. Aug. 28 was the first time that an airplane dispensed a pesticide, the Washington Post reports.
Though the County says it gave notice by way of a newspaper announcement Friday and a social media post Saturday, beekeepers say they weren't informed.
“Had I known, I would have been camping on the steps doing whatever I had to do screaming, ‘No you can’t do this,'” Stanley told Charleston’s WCSC-TV.
According to Cornell University's pesticide database, Naled is listed as toxic to bees.
The county acknowledged the mass death of the bees on Tuesday in a statement.
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