Honeybees in South Carolina died following aerial spraying of insecticide to kill mosquitoes.
Naled, a common insecticide, was sprayed from planes and killed millions of bees in Dorchester County on Sunday, Aug. 28. Following confirmation of four Zika virus cases in Summerville, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control decided to spray the chemical between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. According to reports, about 46 hives were destroyed which accounts to a total of 2.5 million honeybees.
This is the first time that the state has tried aerial spraying since it is usually done using trucks.
Aerial spraying was also done in Florida to fumigate about six million acres of land. As a matter of fact, CDC has also recommended the procedure for Puerto Rico to contain Zika virus infection through mosquitoes.
Since 1959, the United States has been using Naled for killing mosquitoes without causing threat to human lives. Once sprayed, the insecticide dissipates quickly and doesn't harm people. However, direct contact with the chemical while being sprayed is hazardous.
The chemical, an insect neurotoxin, is known to be toxic to honey bees. Larry Haigh, the president of South Carolina Beekeepers Association said that the chemical is usually sprayed at night so that it wouldn't affect the bees as they forage only during the day. In addition, given appropriate warning, the beekeepers will protect the hives and avoid contamination of the bees' food and water.
"Dorchester County is aware that some beekeepers in the area that was sprayed on Sunday lost their beehives," said County Administrator Jason Ward. "I am not pleased that so many bees were killed."
While some people claim that no warning was given about the mosquito spray, Ward said that two notices, one on Friday and the other on Saturday, were sent via newspaper and social media. He added that the notices were sent earlier as per South Carolina Pesticide Control Act, which requires warning be given "not less than 24 hours."
Ward also said that the state isn't planning for any more aerial spraying at this point, a three to five-day notice will be issued henceforth. Registered beekeepers will also be informed by phone or email.
Whatsoever, the death of honeybees shattered the beekeepers of the locality. Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply co-owner Juanita Stanley said that her bee yard appears like "nuked."
"It's not about the honey. It's about saving the bees," Stanley added. "Because of my mission with my business, this is so much more devastating."
Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture| Flickr