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Aerial spraying to eliminate mosquitoes kills millions of honey bees

03 September 2016

Following a weekend mosquito spraying that killed millions of honeybees, Dorchester County has opened a call centre for beekeepers to report losses.

Prior to conducting the spraying on 28 August, Dorchester County sent a notice on Friday, 26 August, and sent a second notice on Saturday, August 27 through the local media and social media.

''Dorchester County is concerned about the safety of its citizens. This includes protecting citizens from insect bites from pests such as mosquitoes that carry viruses including West Nile and Zika. Recently, on August 26, 2016, DHEC reported four confirmed cases of the Zika Virus in the Summerville area of Dorchester County'', the county authorities said in a press release on 30 August.

However, a petition on sought to call off the spraying, and according to Dorchester County residents the notices released Friday offered no details on the type of pesticide to be used. Also requests for more information from the county went unanswered.

"This is both disturbing and frightening to many that live in the area that is to be covered," the petition reads. "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."

The pesticide that was sprayed across Dorchester County, South Carolina, on Sunday was supposed to kill mosquitoes, as a safety measure to combat the threat from West Nile and Zika viruses carried by mosquitoes.

However, the aerial spraying which started from 6:30 am and lasted till 8:30 am killed bees by the millions.

At least two beekeepers, including Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply, reported huge bee deaths from exposure to the insecticide Naled during the aerial spraying.

The county usually called beekeepers in its database before spraying but failed to do so this time, county administrator Jason Ward said. It was the first instance of the county spraying from the air, officials said.

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