Beekeepers devastated on loss of bees after mosquito aerial spray

VIDEO: Beekeepers devastated on loss of bees after mosquito aerial spray
Published: Aug. 31, 2016 at 3:53 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Dorchester County is apologizing to beekeepers after millions of bees died after an aerial spray for mosquitoes on Sunday.

The spray came after the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported four cases of the Zika Virus in Summerville.

Co-owner of Flowertown Bee and Farm Supplies, Juanita Stanley, is left with nearly nothing after the insecticide aerial spray in Dorchester County.

"All of my equipment is contaminated, my honey is contaminated, my cone is contaminated, I'm totally shut down here," Stanley said.

She's a registered beekeeper who receives notifications when mosquito sprays are planned, but this time was different in two ways. It was the first aerial spray in the county and she says she never knew about it.

"Had I known I would have been camping on the steps doing whatever I had to do screaming no you can't do this," Stanley said.

She lost 46 hives and more than two million bees.

She didn't know what happened until Andrew Macke warned her to check after he lost two hives down the street.

"I was upset, but once I saw this and she's lost her livelihood I'm just a by product of terrible situation," Macke said.

Macke says he posted a rant about what happened to his bees on Facebook and it took off. As of Tuesday night it has more than 400 shares and more than 20,000 views.

Stanley says she had so many bees before the aerial spray that you couldn't walk near the bee yard without a beekeeping suit. She described it as golden air or golden rain.

"You could hear the buzz and feel the energy before you got down here and it was silent," Stanley said.

It was nearly a year of work that will take more time to replace. Beekeeping has been in her family for more than 100 years. She moved to Summerville last November, from out of state, specifically to pursue a beekeeping and bee supplier business.

"I have to start all over growing more bees for the business to provide what I need to provide for customers," she said.

Not only that bees are essential, they pollinate the food we need.

"There are better ways, no knee jerk reactions to a possible outbreak of some kind, lets put our heads together," Macke said. "There's some ignorance involved they don't know how important the bees are, with the chemicals what effect they would have on them."

Stanley and Juanita both say they know it wasn't intentional, but it's a mistake that will have a lasting impact.

"My biggest takeaway from all this because I'm trying to find something to be positive about is being a voice for the honey bee, we've got to quit doing this to them," Stanley said

Dorchester County officials say if they do any future aerial sprays they will contact the beekeepers directly. The Clemson University Department of Pesticide Regulation is investigating the incident.

At this time we do not know if any compensation will be provided for the beekeeper's losses.

The insecticide spray used is called Naled. The Environmental Protection Agency says it can be used without posing a risk to people. However, if you are sensitive to chemicals or have respiratory problems you should rinse any items that were left uncovered during the spray including children's toys to reduce exposure.

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