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Millions of honeybees in South Carolina were killed earlier this week after being sprayed with an aerial insecticide used to kill mosquitoes that are known to carry Zika.



Juanita Stanley, co-owner of Flowerton Bee Farm & Supplies in Summerville, S.C., said she knew something was wrong on Monday morning when she went to check on her bees and heard nothing.

“I have millions of bees, and usually you can hear the buzzing and feel the energy, but it was silent,” she said. “It was just devastation; there were piles of dead bees.”

Stanley said bees in all 46 of her hives were killed, resulting in the loss of millions of bees and her livelihood.



Stanley and other beekeepers in the Dorchester County, S.C., are reeling after the county aerially sprayed from a plane on Sunday morning. (1)

The county used a product called Trumpet, which contains the pesticide naled, recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for control of adult Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits Zika.
According to the manufacturer’s label (PDF), Trumpet 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.”
“We followed that recommendation,” said Ward, “which is also the policy laid out by the state, using a pesticide the state has approved for use.”
Ward says the county also notified residents of the spraying by posting a notice on its website at 9 a.m. Friday, two days before the spraying. He added that it alerted beekeepers who were on the local mosquito control registry by phone or email, a common practice before truck spraying.

“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.(2)”

And while the massive loss of honeybees gained headlines around the country, other non-target insects were likely also wiped out by the naled spray, according to Leif Richardson, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, who studies declines of native bee species, at the University of Vermont.

Studies have shown that naled can harm other bee species, flies and even butterflies — all insects that also perform important ecological roles, like the honey bee, as pollinators (1).

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