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article imageSouth Carolina kills millions of bees while spraying for Zika

By Karen Graham     Sep 2, 2016 in Environment
Summerville - A heartbreaking incident in South Carolina this past week highlights the delicate balance that exists between protecting the environment and vector control to protect our health.
As of September 2, the South Carolina Department of Health is reporting 46 travel-acquired Zika cases, and so far, no home-grown cases of the virus have shown up, and that's the way everyone would like it to remain.
To combat the Zika-carrying mosquito, South Carolina has been doing truck and aerial spraying with an insecticide called Trumpet, which contains the pesticide naled. Naled is an organophosphate used to control adult mosquitoes and is recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in the U.S.
The EPA also says that any spraying for mosquitoes using naled should be done between the hours of duck and before dawn when bees are not foraging.
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Juanita Stanley, co-owner of Flowerton Bee Farm & Supplies in Summerville, S.C went outside and the first thing she noticed when she went to check on her bees was the silence, dead silence. Instead, she found all 46 of her hives, containing millions of bees were silent, and all around lay the bodies of the dead.
“I have millions of bees, and usually, you can hear the buzzing and feel the energy, but it was silent,” she said, according to USA Today. “It was just devastation; there were piles of dead bees.”
Those that didn’t die immediately were poisoned trying to drag out the dead,” Stanley said. “Now, I’m going to have to destroy my hives, the honey, all my equipment. It’s all contaminated.”
Summerville Fire Capt. Andrew Macke, a friend of Stanley, keeps bees as a hobby. He also lost his hives containing thousands of bees. Stanley says that neither of them had heard about the aerial spraying or they would have protected their bees, reports WTVR Richmond. Andrew has two hives,” Stanley said. “He didn’t know they were going to spray. His wife called him. His bees are at their porch right by their home, and she saw dead bees everywhere.”
The spraying took place between the hours of 6:30 and 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning, using the recommendations of the EPA. It was also the first aerial spraying for mosquitoes done in 14 years in Dorchester County, according to Administrator Jason Ward. He said the spraying was for mosquito control after four residents were diagnosed with travel-related Zika.
Ward says the county notified residents of the Sunday spraying by posting a notice on the County's website at 9:00 a.m. on Friday.
Beekeepers who were on the local mosquito control registry were notified by phone or email, as is customary before truck spraying is done.
“That’s true when they sprayed by trucks; they told me in advance, and we talked about it so I could protect my bees,” Stanley said. “But nobody called me about the aerial spraying; nobody told me at all.” As for the notice on the county's website, Stanley says she's not a big Internet user.
The county's response? “We are obviously saddened by the fact people have lost their hives, and we have gone back and looked at our procedures,” Ward said. “We will now give up to five days of advance notice, and we have expanded our list to include more local beekeepers.”
It is entirely possible that we may be seeing more indiscriminate killing of beneficial insects such as bees, butterflies, and other foragers. We may have to weigh the pros and cons of aerial spraying in light of what's happened in South Carolina.
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