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Honey Bees: Collateral Damage in Fight Against Zika

Honey Bees: Collateral Damage in Fight Against Zika

Sadly, this South Carolina “bee-pocalypse” was real

There is another disturbing report related to the spread of the Zika virus; however, this one doesn’t involve birth defects or neurological problems.

Millions of honey bees were killed after areas of South Carolina were sprayed to kill the mosquitoes that transmit the pathogen.

“On Saturday, it was total energy, millions of bees foraging, pollinating, making honey for winter,” beekeeper Juanita Stanley said. “Today, it stinks of death. Maggots and other insects are feeding on the honey and the baby bees who are still in the hives. It’s heartbreaking.”

Stanley, co-owner of Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply in Summerville, South Carolina, said she lost 46 beehives — more than 3 million bees — in mere minutes after the spraying began Sunday morning.

“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.”

Truly, the images of the bee-keepers assessing the loss of both their bees and their livelihoods are heartbreaking:

As honey bees are the leading pollinators of crops, consumers can expect prices on both honey and food to rise.

…In a report for CNN, Marla Spivak, McKnight professor of entomology at the University of Minnesota, explained that honeybees and wild bees are the most important pollinators of many of the fruits and vegetables we eat. Of 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the global food supply, 71 of those crops are bee-pollinated.

Spivak says the value of pollinated crops in the U.S. alone is more than $16 billion. Insect pollinators contribute more than $29 billion to U.S. farm income.

As the bee population is diminished, food becomes less available and prices of fruits and vegetables increase. Spivak says fewer bees mean no almonds, less coffee and less alfalfa hay available to feed dairy cows.

Currently, there is an online petition demanding contracted abatement be stopped until there is more information made available and the situation can be “addressed by the proper personnel.” It has been signed by over 7,000 people.

South Carolina officials indicate that the insecticide naled was used, in an effort to target the Aedes egypti mosquitoes and prevent Zika from getting a foothold in the state.

The program head, Dr. Mike Weyman, said that though South Carolina has strict rules about protecting pollinators, county officials were using the neurotoxin, Naled, under a clause exempting them in a “clear and public health crisis”.

More than three dozen people have tested positive for Zika in South Carolina, Weyman said, and officials have made it a priority to prevent local transmissions through the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

“We don’t want one of those mosquitos having a blood meal on an individual we’ve already determined was positive,” Weyman said. “We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that [Zika] is up and running in Florida. If it gets in the mosquito population … you’re playing catch-up.”

Clemson University’s department of pesticide regulation is investigating the incident to determine how to prevent further harm to the state’s pollinators.

There is a GoFundMe page for one of the bee farms hit by the spraying, for those inclined to lend fiscal support.

How can we effectively protect Americans and our unborn from Zika, yet not harm a vital part of our ecosystem? Here is a thought: Bring back DDT. A 1958 New Zealand study showed DDT was not harmful to bees when properly applied and not sprayed directly on the bees.

And here’s to hoping that the human Zika vaccine trials involving 160 people in hard-hit Puerto Rico are successful.

The global warming alarmist ginned up a “bee-pocalypse” that was fiction. Sadly, this one is all too real.


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“…Here is a thought: Bring back DDT. A 1958 New Zealand study showed DDT was not harmful to bees when properly applied and not sprayed directly on the bees….”

You can forget that idea as Government NEVER admits a mistake particularly when it was a stupid, unnecessary mistake.

Bee colonies are highly portable.

I have very little sympathy for the beekeepers who didn’t pay attention.

    They say they weren’t told about it, and as far as paying attention, this was the first aerial spraying of that area in 14 years. The county did post a notice on its website, but how many people are likely to look at that?

    Hopefully, bee farmers and hobbyists will hear of this and be more vigilant in checking their county’s website and getting on mosquito control lists, etc.

      The Packetman in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | September 5, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      Hopefully, bee farmers and hobbyists will hear of this and be more vigilant in checking their county’s website and getting on mosquito control lists, county administrators will do a much better job alerting beekeepers when they’re about to use pesticides that are specifically known to be toxic to bees etc.


    healthguyfsu in reply to Ragspierre. | September 4, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    The irony that you didn’t read about the lack of formal notice. These kind of sprayings are not routine.

    Wow, just wow! If you understood bee behavior you would know that you can only move bees after they have been covered at night, that way they are all in the hive and you do not get stung. Shortly after first light the bees begin to forage for nectar and pollen. That is when they were sprayed without warning, with an organophosphate called Naled. It is an extremely toxic broad spectrum pesticide that absolutely kills and manes indiscriminately, not just insects.

The spraying agency claims ‘registered’ beekeepers were given 48hrs notice, but some such beekeepers, accustomed to periodic notice of truck-based spraying, claim that no notice was received. Haven’t read about any beekeepers actually moving their hives out of harms way.

Why do I think about the VA and the EPA as I read about this?

And then tere is the question of using an insect spray at all, Science has advanced beyond old fashioned methods and mosquito control is one area of advancement. From NatureIndia:

Many Indian cities grappling with the annual post-monsoon surge in dengue and malaria have news to cheer about. Researchers from Bengal Engineering and Science University (BESU) have reported an incredibly cheap and easy way to control mosquitoes with the help of carbon nano-particles.

They claim that adding very small quantities of water soluble carbon nano-particles (wsCNPs) to stagnant water prevents mosquito larvae to grow into adult mosquitoes, thereby potentially eliminating the need for hazardous chemical sprays. The researchers have shown that larvae ingesting the nanoparticles simply die in four weeks without ever attaining the pupal stage.

    healthguyfsu in reply to gad-fly. | September 4, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    That’s not safe for deployment…do you have any idea about how many other organisms something like that could affect?