More than 150 Bee Colonies Wiped Out in Oregon From Pesticides
June 24th, 2013
You wouldnât celebrate Arbor Day by cutting down a forest, but one landscaping business in Wilsonville, Oregon marked National Pollinator Week in the same sort of ironic fashionâbyÂ killing off an estimated 25,000 bees in the small Oregon town.
According to theÂ Wilsonville Spokesman, shoppers at an area Target began reporting mass amounts of dead bees in the storeâs parking lot, specifically around the European linden trees that dotted the area. Portland-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation was called in.
âAfter several calls at the office, I visited the Target store in Wilsonville and found a parking lot full of dead bumblebees underneath blooming European linden trees,â said Rich Hatfield, a conservation biologist with the organization. âThey were literally falling out of the trees. To our knowledge this isÂ one of the largest documented bumblebee deaths in the Western U.S.Â It was heartbreaking to watch.â
Oregon agriculture depends on bees, and specifically the bumblebee population, to pollinate their crops. The thousands lost in Wilsonville could have a serious effect on surrounding farms. Even the EU has gone and enacted a ban on pesticides linked to bee deaths, while theÂ USDA has welcomed themÂ with open arms.
âAll the trees had dead and dying insects,â said a local resident who initially called The Xerces Society, known for their work in bee conservation. âI parked by one of the trees and there were just masses of them. I was just disturbed.â
The Oregon Department of Agriculture was called in and collected samples of the bees and the surrounding vegetation. According to the agency, the trees had been treated with something known as dinotefuran, an insecticide from Safari. On the label, the pesticide specifically states not to use on trees that are in bloom, as the linden trees were.
Twenty-five thousand bumblebees is a rough estimate as officials believe the initial kill had been cleaned up. They surmise the kill represents the loss ofÂ upwards of 150 bee colonies, in addition to honeybees, lady bird beetles, and other insects.
âWe need to spotlight this as a real-world lesson in the harm these toxic chemicals are causing to beneficial insects,â said Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society. âIt would be especially alarming to find out whether pesticides are the cause in this case because the linden trees are not even an agricultural crop. Any spraying that happened would have been done for purely cosmetic reasons.â
Bees play aÂ crucial roleÂ in our ecosystem, responsible for spreading pollen from plant to plant, encouraging fruit growth and production. To annihilate 150 bee colonies for aesthetics is truly an alarming incident.
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Contributed by Elizabeth Renter of Natural Society.
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