Millions of honeybees in South Carolina were killed earlier this week after being sprayed with an aerial insecticide used to kill mosquitoes that are known to carry Zika.
Juanita Stanley, co-owner of Flowerton Bee Farm & Supplies in Summerville, S.C., said she knew something was wrong on Monday morning when she went to check on her bees and heard nothing.
“I have millions of bees, and usually you can hear the buzzing and feel the energy, but it was silent,” she said. “It was just devastation; there were piles of dead bees.”
Stanley said bees in all 46 of her hives were killed, resulting in the loss of millions of bees and her livelihood.
Stanley and other beekeepers in the Dorchester County, S.C., are reeling after the county aerially sprayed naled, a pesticide used to kill mosquitoes since 1959, from a plane on Sunday morning.
Adding to a further furor over the massive bee kill is what many residents in the area are calling a lack of information about the spray, ABC News 4 reported. The news station reported that many people said they had only 10 hours notice before the spray.
Stanley, who said she rarely reads the paper and isn’t active on social media, said she had no idea the county was even planning to spray.
According to Dorchester County officials, a notice about spraying was posted on the county website on Friday, Aug. 26, and many residents were notified about the spray by phone, ABC News 4 reported.
And while the massive loss of honeybees gained headlines around the country, other non-target insects were likely also wiped out by the naled spray, according to Leif Richardson, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, who studies honey bee collapse, at the University of Vermont.
Studies have shown that naled can harm other bee species, flies and even butterflies -- all insects that also perform important ecological roles, like the honey bee, as pollinators.
“The message should be one of regret for those beekeepers, but in terms of environmental harm and ecological harm, it’s not just the beekeepers that are the big issue,” he said. “But also the big sweep of other insects that perform important functions in the environment that we depend on.”
Dorchester County Administrator Jason Ward said Sunday’s spray was the first aerial spray in the county in 14 years, CNN reported.
He told CNN the county scheduled the spray between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, when bees were less likely to be active, and people were most likely indoors.
The spray used included naled, a product recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which the organization said is applied by air to some 16 million acres within the continental U.S. for mosquito control.
Stanley maintains that no one called to notify her, although in the past the county did tell her when they planned to spray from trucks.
Stanley said she hopes that the devastation caused by the spray will force officials to reconsider spraying methods.
“I don’t want this story to be just in the moment because without honey bees we can’t survive,” she said. “We have to coexist.”