Recently, on August 26, 2016, the Dorchester County Department of Health and Environmental Control reported four confirmed cases of the Zika Virus in the Summerville area of Dorchester County, South Carolina. In order to combat the spread of mosquito borne Zika viruses the county decided to use aerial spraying to supplement their ground based mosquito spraying trucks and larvae control programs. Dorchester County sprayed a pesticide called Naled, a neurotoxin which kills adult mosquitoes and other insects. The aerial spraying killed millions of bees.
Prior to the aerial spraying on Sunday, August 28, from 6:30 AM to 8:30 AM, Dorchester County sent a notices on Friday, August 26 at 9:15 AM and sent a second notice on Saturday, August 27 at 8:48 PM to various media outlets and contacting registered beekeepers before beginning the operations. Unfortunately, not all beekeepers in the area were informed, they managed to overlook Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply in the town of Summerville. The spraying wiped out 2.3 million bees that were housed in 46 hives at their commercial bee operation.
Spraying Naled from the air has been previously used to cover areas that cannot be reached by truck. In a single year in Florida, more than 6 million acres were sprayed from the air with the chemical, according to a new brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Aerial treatment of areas with products that rapidly reduce both young and adult mosquitoes can help to limit the number of mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus. Repeated aerial applications of insecticide has reduced mosquito populations as a part of an integrated vector management program.” The agency even urged that the technique should be used to curb Zika in Puerto Rico.
Since the Dorchester County spraying killed honeybees, it probably also killed wild bees and other pollinators, Honeybee deaths are just easier to notice, because wild bees are mostly solitary. There are no pesticides that kill adult mosquitoes – known as adulticides – that are safe for bees. Even pyrethrin, which is produced from chrysanthemums, is known to be toxic to bees. A safer route would be to use larvicides, which kill mosquito larvae and are safer for bees.
Honey bees are already under stress. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is threating both wild and managed pollinator populations in the United States and the rest of the world. Pollination is essential for fertilization and for plants to produce seeds and fruit. Without pollination there would be no fruits, no vegetable and no seeds. Though, grasses, conifers, and many deciduous trees are wind-pollinated, most flowering plants that we eat need birds and insects for pollination. CCD has wiped out millions upon millions of honeybees over the past two decades.