Earth Day Network

When Pesticides Go Wrong

A county in South Carolina killed millions of bees over the weekend

The pesticide was meant to stop the threat of Zika and West Nile in Dorchester County, South Carolina … but instead it poisoned millions of bees, killing them over the weekend. Sunday morning, the county sprayed pesticides from airplanes and by the afternoon, thousands upon thousands of bee carcasses fell to the ground. Four cases of Zika were confirmed in the county last week, prompting the quick decision to spay the areas.

 

This mass killing has sparked outrage among citizens and environmentalists. The county says that they provided enough information to bee-keepers and residents in the county but bee-keepers disagree. There are also new reports that state the pesticide used a product containing naled. Naled is “highly toxic to bees” according to the manufacturer of the pesticide. Bee-keepers are reporting losses in the millions.

 

What’s the big deal?

 

Not only has the loss of bees affected the livelihood of bee-keepers—they have had to destroy their equipment contaminated by the pesticide and the bees are dead on the ground—but bees are a keystone species. They are important pollinators around the world. In the US, honey bees pollinate many of our crops. Bees are brought in trucks to California, New York, Maine and Massachusetts to pollinate almonds, apples, blueberries and cranberries. Crops are also able to produce more with the help of bees.

 

There has got to be a better way to protect human health against diseases such as Zika and West Nile, without jeopardizing the bee population. In Dorchester County, officials plan to do a better job of notifying bee-keepers and residents about pesticide sprays.