South Carolina honeybees are killed as officials are battling the Zika virus. On Wednesday, officials from Dorchester County, South Carolina issued an apology upon learning that they have accidentally killed millions of honeybees in the state.
The honeybees were massacred over the weekend as officials conducted a series of aerial mosquito spraying operations. The state used an insecticide called Naled to eliminate the mosquitoes.
According to the experts from Cornell University, Naled is highly toxic to bees and the insect neurotoxin cannot discriminate between honeybees and bloodsuckers. Dorchester County typically sprays insecticides from trucks; this was the first time they decided to have it done via the air.
It has been confirmed that four people, who contracted the virus on foreign lands, have returned to Charleston. It is not known why, but county officials neglected to warn local beekeepers about the spraying operations.
Dorchester County officials have apologized for killing the bees. Jason Ward, County Administrator, said in a news release:
“Dorchester County is aware that some beekeepers in the area that was sprayed on Sunday lost their beehives. I am not pleased that so many bees were killed.”
Juanita Stanley, the co-owner of Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply in Summerville, said she lost more than 2 million bees. Stanley stated:
“The farm looks like it’s been nuked.”
Andrew Macke, a hobby beekeeper, says he lost thousands of bees. He added:
“I was angry that day, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that we spray poison from the sky.”
Macke said he hopes officials learned something. He shared:
“If we turn this into a teachable moment, how important bees are to the environment and how unhealthy it is to aerial spray a pesticide.”
Nita Stanley, of Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply, said it was a mistake that will not happen again. Stanley said:
“We have to be kind and compassionate and figure out what’s going to be the best method to treat anything, without harming the honeybees.”
Via Change.org, a Summerville resident has launched a petition calling for Dorchester County to stop aerial Naled spraying. It read:
On Friday, August 26, 2016 our local paper (Summerville Journal Scene) and the Town of Summerville posted a brief notice to the general populace (via Facebook) that there would be aerial spraying of insecticides (of unknown source, type, amount or origin) on Sunday, August 28, 2016 between 6:30 AM and 8:30 AM. This notice was published at approximately 1:00 PM EST, only 3 hours before town and county offices closed for the weekend. Additionally, there is no mention whatsoever of the aerial spraying for mosquito abatement schedule on the Dorchester County website. Only the spraying by trucks.
Immediately upon learning of this information, concerned citizens of the area called Dorchester County Mosquito Abatement at (843) 832-0700 and (843) 563-0070 (as the notice stated to do if we had questions or concerns). Only two or three concerned parties reached anyone at all and those that did were directed to a Scott Gaskins who was supposed to return to his office at 2:30 PM. To our knowledge not one phone call was returned and no answers were given. Mr. Gaskins did not begin answering calls and the remainder of those that called ionly got a voicemail recording and no returned phone call.
This is both disturbing and frightening to many that live in the area that is to be covered. There are live and privately owned beehives that are in this area and to the best of our knowledge, the chemicals to be used are toxic to honeybees (even if the spraying occurs while the hives are in a rest state at night). Additionally there is concern to the general population regarding the harmful side effects on pregnant women, children, those with health issues, as well as the environment.
A few hours is not a significant amount of time for an entire town to be notified as to the intentions of the county to begin aerial spraying of potentially toxic chemicals (on a weekend when no county offices would be open) nor was enough information given for the general population to be educated on such an event and it’s possible side effects.
This petition is a request for the contracted abatement to cease immediately until such a time that the general populace (in the target area and surrounding areas); to be notified as to the ingredients of such chemicals, be provided copies of their material safety data sheets (MSDS), dosing amounts and possible side effects. We request that this be halted until such a time the general populace can ask questions in an open forum that has been scheduled and advertised well in advance so that they are able to voice concerns and opinions to their local and elected officials before abatement continues.
We request that this abatement (and future ground and/or aerial spraying) cease and desist until such time as these things can be addressed by the proper personnel.
Concerned Citizens of Dorchester County
Some are wondering if this incident will have long-term consequences.