While Zika quietly spreads in the southern United States, millions of honeybees were killed as a side effect of aerial spraying for virus-carrying mosquitos in a South Carolina county.
A 15-square mile area in Dorchester County was targeted with a pesticide called Naled on Sunday between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., Huffington Post reported. Application of Naled during these hours was in accordance with the prescribed time to use the pesticide according to its manufacturer.
But, the impact of the Zika spraying on local beekeepers has been devastating. The precautionary act brought with it the death of over 3 million honeybees, killing the populations of 46 beehives for one particular farm in Summerville. Among others, Flowertown Bee Farm and Supplies has had their business completely destroyed due to the side effects of the aerial pesticide spraying.
Beekeeper Juanita Stanley, co-owner of the Flowertown farm, told CNN how her once-lively honeybee farm is now a mortuary for the insects. Stanley said, “On Saturday, it was total energy, millions of bees foraging, pollinating making honey for winter. Today, it stinks of death. Maggots and other insects are feeding on the honey and the baby bees who are still in the hives. It’s heartbreaking.”
On Tuesday, a Dorchester County official acknowledged the setbacks for local businesses, but his statement may be too little, too late. The irreparable damage has been done. Jason Ward, county administrator, said that the county “is aware that some beekeepers in the area that was sprayed on Sunday lost their beehives.” He added his remorse that he wasn’t “pleased that so many bees were killed.”
Zika’s toll on the natural environment and small businesses was perhaps under the radar previous to this incident, but now Dorchester County should be used as an example to other counties who are concerned about the virus's spread. Whether the use of Naled should be discontinued in the fight against Zika certainly ought to be considered by environmental authorities.
Banner photo credit: Twitter, @CatchTheBaby