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Pesticide causes largest mass bumblebee death on record


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Jun 21, 2013, 7:59pm   #1
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Tens of thousands of bumblebees and other pollinators were found dead under trees at the Target store in Wilsonville on Saturday. The discovery was a strange and ironic start to National Pollinator Week, a symbolic annual event intended to raise public awareness about the plight of bees.

The massive bee kill was documented on Monday by Rich Hatfield, a conservation biologist with the Portland-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. Several shoppers at the store called him to report that there were dead and dying bees all over the parking lot. Specifically, the bees were clustered under dozens of European linden trees. The Xerces Society is internationally known for its work on bee conservation.

“After several calls at the office I visited the Target store in Wilsonville and found a parking lot full of dead bumblebees underneath blooming European linden trees,” said Hatfield. “They were literally falling out of the trees. To our knowledge this is one of the largest documented bumblebee deaths in the Western U.S. It was heartbreaking to watch.”

Lake Oswego resident Cassandra Platz said she noticed the bees Saturday when she was shopping around noon. She had parked near one of the trees and noticed the bees.

“All the trees had dead and dying insects,” Platz said. “I parked by one of the trees and there were just masses of them. I was just disturbed.”

According to Kerry Rappold, Wilsonville natural resources program manager, the 50 to 55 affected European linden trees are on Target property.

“I visited the site (June 19), and saw bees on the ground in the process of dying. It’s a very unfortunate situation. Hopefully, (Oregon Department of Agriculture) can provide some information,” Rappold said.

The Xerces Society contacted the Oregon Department of Agriculture, which responded by sending staff to collect samples of the bees and foliage from the trees. According to staff members at the agriculture department, they determined the trees were treated with an insecticide by Safari called dinotefuran.

“It seems a landscape company did not follow label directions as it is not supposed to be sprayed during bloom,” said Scott Hoffman Black, executive director at the Xerces Society. “We now assume this is the cause of the massive bee die-off. Lots of bees still dying — almost all bumblebees.”


“We are very happy with the quick action by ODA to get to the site and collect bees for testing,” said Mace Vaughan, pollinator conservation program director for the Xerces Society.

Hatfield estimated there were at least 25,000 dead bumblebees, a number that likely represents the loss of more than 150 colonies. There were also dead honeybees, lady bird beetles and other beneficial insects. Bumblebees are especially important to agriculture in western Oregon, where they are considered vital pollinators of many berry crops and Willamette Valley seed crops.

“We think that the initial kill was either cleaned up or the bees were eaten by birds so it is hard to get an overall number. To be on the safe side we are still estimating over 25,000, which would be the largest known kill of bumblebees,” Black said.

“We need to spotlight this as a real-world lesson in the harm these toxic chemicals are causing to beneficial insects,” Black said. “It would be especially alarming to find out whether pesticides are the cause in this case because the linden trees are not even an agricultural crop. Any spraying that happened would have been done for purely cosmetic reasons.”

According to Mark Ottenad, city public and government affairs director, “The city has not, so far as I am aware of, ever had any situation like this. We are, nonetheless, very concerned. … The city is adjacent to some of the most productive agricultural land in the state and bee pollination is essential to the agricultural industry.”

The ODA may send out a crew to trim off all of the flowers, which is a huge job on 55 individual 30-foot-tall trees with flowers on all branches, said Black.

“Bumblebees are very important pollinators of many agricultural crops, especially important crops in Oregon like blueberries and raspberries. Although it will be difficult to tell how this one incident impacts agriculture, we believe this is a real reason to educate people about the adverse impacts that pesticides can have on these important animals,” Black said. “In most cases, pesticides are really not needed at all in urban/suburban areas. In this case there was no economic benefit that we know of from using them. If you do not need pesticides, do not use them. If you do need to use them, do the background reading to understand how they might impact pollinators as well as other important animals.”
http://portlandtribune.com/sl/155096...ath-on-record-
Jun 22, 2013, 11:50am   #2
CobaltBlu's Avatar
This breaks my heart
Jun 22, 2013, 12:25pm   #3
l
Member
Originally Posted by CobaltBlu
This breaks my heart
Me, too. I really hope they are wrong about the birds eating the bees.
Jun 22, 2013, 4:16pm   #4
CobaltBlu's Avatar
Originally Posted by lulu212121
Me, too. I really hope they are wrong about the birds eating the bees.
I am sure the birds did eat the bees, and also that the bees that didnt drop dead on the spot made it home to their colonies and poisoned them as well.

People need to stop spraying stuff that kills things unless they absolutely know what they are doing. This is just criminal in this day and age. I am floored by this.
Jun 22, 2013, 7:27pm   #5
twin-fun's Avatar
SPECTRUM MOM
Heartbreaking. The human race has been poising the planet for far too long. I truly wish people would just stop spraying all these pesticides and insecticides already!
Jun 22, 2013, 7:30pm   #6
CobaltBlu's Avatar
I just read on the Xerces society page that this was done to kill aphids, and against manufacturers directions, which clearly state not to spray during bloom. This is a federal violation, so hopefully there will be some consequences. Also, they are concerned the toxicity will remain in the trees. Until next year at least. This was done purely for cosmetic reasons.


And a box of ladybugs would have done the trick nicely.


Here is the link to xerces, a great organization, by the way
http://www.xerces.org/2013/06/21/pes...ath-on-record/
Jun 22, 2013, 9:35pm   #7
HauteMama's Avatar
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I am disappointed with Target. Surely if it was on their property, they were the ones contracting for the spraying for purely cosmetic reasons. Yes, the company who sprayed against label directions ought to be held responsible, but I think there ought to be a public outcry to Target as well to indicate that the public doesn't support spraying poisons for essentially no reason.
Jun 22, 2013, 10:05pm   #8
CobaltBlu's Avatar
Originally Posted by HauteMama
I am disappointed with Target. Surely if it was on their property, they were the ones contracting for the spraying for purely cosmetic reasons. Yes, the company who sprayed against label directions ought to be held responsible, but I think there ought to be a public outcry to Target as well to indicate that the public doesn't support spraying poisons for essentially no reason.
No, it was the property management company for the center that leased the store to Target. Target had a response on their facebook about it. However, since there is a big outcry and their name is linked to it, they should step up and do what they can to raise awareness and pull this out of the crapper, IMHO


I am so irritated because somewhere out there there is a real live human being who decided to go ahead and use this poison for NO REASON and devastate the pollinator population in this area, at a time when everybody should be doing what they can to protect this incredibly vulnerable and critical part of our ecosystem. And used it on aphids for heavens sake, aphids would not have done any significant damage to the linden trees at all.

Jun 23, 2013, 3:21am   #9
caitlin1214's Avatar
Nasty Bish
Those poor bees!
Jun 23, 2013, 11:49am   #10
boxermom's Avatar
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What an awful story. Heart-breaking, as CB said. Bees are declining for some unknown reasons, but for a deliberate act to incidentally kill so many is terrible. We need them for so many reasons.

Locally-made honey is good for people with allergies and I haven't found any for a long time--the stores can't find anyone with hives producing enough to sell. This is a very bad sign for the human race. (I could get on my soapbox and talk about why we need to care about the Polar Bear and extinction, but that's for another day)
Jun 23, 2013, 11:53am   #11
Echoes's Avatar
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Originally Posted by boxermom
Locally-made honey is good for people with allergies and I haven't found any for a long time--the stores can't find anyone with hives producing enough to sell.
[ tangent ]

Saw a story not too long ago that included a segment on Sue Bee honey with the guy bragging about how they buy honey from all over the US and blend it so it has a uniform color. I kinda wanted to reach into the TV and smack him.

[ /tangent ]
Jun 23, 2013, 11:58am   #12
boxermom's Avatar
Member
Originally Posted by Echoes
[ tangent ]

Saw a story not too long ago that included a segment on Sue Bee honey with the guy bragging about how they buy honey from all over the US and blend it so it has a uniform color. I kinda wanted to reach into the TV and smack him.

[ /tangent ]
Arghh! Too bad you couldn't do that with your remote, Echoes. Seems like there should be a button for that.
Jun 23, 2013, 12:06pm   #13
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June 21, 2013 at 5:16 PM, updated June 22, 2013 at 9:10 AM



As the estimate of dead bees rose to 50,000, the Oregon Department of Agriculture confirmed the insecticide Safari caused the deaths in a Wilsonville earlier this week. A landscaping company sprayed 55 linden trees in a Target parking lot to control for aphids, said Dan Hilburn, the plants division director at the department of agriculture. They bees have been dropping from trees since the spraying on Saturday.

Aphids produce honeydew, a sticky liquid that can drip off onto cars or pedestrians. A Target representative said by email that the Wilsonville store had received no customer complaints about it.

The Portland-based Xerces Society, which first reported the die off to the state Agriculture Department said aphids can be controlled without insecticides, including by spraying infested plants with soapy water.

More
Continuing coverage of the deaths of an estimated 50,000 bumblebees.


On Friday the Agriculture Department, the City of Wilsonville, neighboring towns and some local landscape contractors covered the sprayed trees with netting in an attempt to prevent further insect deaths.

The state is investigating any violation of pesticide laws, which could take up to four months, said Dale Mitchell of the Agriculture Department.

Mitchell said the bee deaths, the largest documented die-off of bumblebees, could prove important in determining the use and regulations of Safari and other insecticides in the United States.

Safari's main ingredient is dinotefuran, a neonicotinoid. There are two main kinds of neonicotinoids, both of which are general use insecticides. Safari is a member of the nitro-group. Research published in 2012 shows these are generally more toxic to bees than the other type. The European Union issued a temporary ban on three other kinds of nitro-group neonicotinoids, which will go into effect this December.

Elliot Associates, the land management company that rents the affected Argyle Square lot, released the following statement Thursday: "If a cause is discovered which may be attributable to our actions or those of our contractors, a proactive course of action will be taken after consulting with the DOA and other experts in this field."

Meanwhile, other reports of bees dying around Wilsonville and surrounding towns have prompted Xerces to check whether similar pesticides were used elsewhere.

"My worry is that we're going to lose sight of the real message," said Mace Vaughan of Xerces. "I think we're (using insecticides) all over the place, and people are doing it in their backyards without even knowing it."

The agriculture department and other related groups will meet Monday to discuss any further action.
http://www.oregonlive.com/environmen...ee_dea.html#/0
Jun 23, 2013, 12:18pm   #14
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Originally Posted by CobaltBlu
No, it was the property management company for the center that leased the store to Target. Target had a response on their facebook about it. However, since there is a big outcry and their name is linked to it, they should step up and do what they can to raise awareness and pull this out of the crapper, IMHO


I am so irritated because somewhere out there there is a real live human being who decided to go ahead and use this poison for NO REASON and devastate the pollinator population in this area, at a time when everybody should be doing what they can to protect this incredibly vulnerable and critical part of our ecosystem. And used it on aphids for heavens sake, aphids would not have done any significant damage to the linden trees at all.

ITA

I can't write, much too angry.

I saw a whole lot of bees dead in our local cemetery, directly under a tree. Now I'm wondering if some idiot from a new gardening contractor did a similar thing http://www.countrywidegrounds.com/?g...FTMgtAodTFAA3Q All those awards from who and for what? Last year they cut down all the blooming bushes in the area (buddleia) because they were told to cut the over hanging branches of trees to a path. I complained. There was an apology. Apologies don't make any difference. What idiot can't tell the difference between a huge tree and a small bush? No bee, butterfly or bird stands a chance with these corporate morons
Jun 23, 2013, 1:56pm   #15
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Member
These companies take such shortcuts without thinking. I'm staying for a short time in an apt complex in Illinois. The workers came around and butchered the landscaping down to nothing, including all the buds on some late-blooming lilacs. There will be no flowers from those bushes this year. Plus they have been spraying in an area that appears to have natural wildflowers, which are now dead.

I'm only a short-term tenant, but I will speak to management (which will be ignored, I'm sure).
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