Friday, June 21, 2013

The Buzz: Dead and Dying Bees Still Being Found

In a press release, Rich Hatfield, a biologist with the Xerces Society, estimated that over 50,000 bumble bees were killed in the Wilsonville tragedy, a number that represents more than 300 wild colonies.

“Each of those colonies could have produced multiple new queens that would have gone on to establish new colonies next year," he said. "This makes the event particularly catastrophic.”

Volunteers making nets to wrap trees.

An earlier report stated that the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) confirmed that the bee deaths were caused by the bees coming into contact with dinotefuran, the active ingredient in the pesticide Safari, made by the Valent Corporation. A neonicotinoid, it contains a powerful neurotoxin that, according to the instructions, should never be applied to a blooming tree full of pollinators as it was in the case of the linden trees in Wilsonville.

The city of Wilsonville, along with staff from the Xerces Society and the ODA, have been working feverishly to cover the trees with nets to keep the bees from coming into contact with the poison. Workers estimate that all 50 trees should be covered by the end of the day on Friday.

Update: 7 am, 6/24/13 Mace Vaughan, Pollinator Program Dir. for the Xerces Society, posted on the Xerces Facebook page: ""By 5 pm on Friday (June 21), the City of Wilsonville, with help from boom trucks and crews from at least four nearby cities, the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture and Xerces Society had covered all 55 poisoned trees in netting. Amazing!! We cannot thank the City of Wilsonville enough for their rapid response!"

Read the first report in this series: "City Steps in to Save Bees"

Video and photos courtesy Mace Vaughan, Pollinator Program Dir., Xerces Society.

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