Saturday, August 18, 2012

West Nile Spraying Affects Honey Bees

Brandon Pollard covering bee hives to protect from West Nile insecticide spraying
     In several areas of North America ground and aerial pesticide spraying to kill mosquitoes who potentially carry the West Nile virus is now underway.  The insecticide is toxic to all insects including honey bees.  Texas beekeepers Brandon and Susan Pollard say they have witnessed the affects of the pesticide spraying and have lost thousands of bees.  “Writhing on the ground. And, they really do look like they’ve been put through a neurotoxin. It’s not a pretty sight,” Susan Pollard said.  The Pollards think the spray may have fallen on some of the honeybees, or some of the bees drank pesticide tainted water and brought it back to the rest of the colony.  “They will share their food and within 24 or 48 hours, 80-percent of those bees have shared that and they will be gone like the ones that we have witnessed,” said Susan Pollard.  The Pollards have begun covering their bee hives each night with cardboard boxes to protect them from the nightly ground and aerial spraying.

The video above is from The Texas Honeybee Guild Facebook page of the Pollards examining the effects of the West Nile spraying on their bees.
     No one knows the affects on children and adults of long term exposure to toxins in our environment like this mosquito pesticide but in some districts they are washing off the residual pesticide from drinking fountains and playground equipment.

     Although action against this deadly disease is necessary we must consider the affects of exposure to environmental toxins.  This might be a good time to point out that this is the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson"s ground breaking environmental book "Silent Spring".  Controversial at the time it is considered one of the most influential books of the 20th century in which she foretold of the possible affects of constant exposure to environmental toxins like insecticides (The Legacy of Silent Spring).   


  1. It makes me so angry when i hear of this spraying being done - the damage caused is horrific. here in NZ we had a similar aerial spraying over large urban areas afew years ago, there was such an out-cry I don`t think it will ever happen again !

  2. I agree. I thought this blanket spraying of toxic chemicals was a thing of the past. There are more localized methods of targeting mosquito control which would not release chemicals into the environment but the issue is cost. The long term effects of wide spread spraying may be even more costly.

  3. P.S. On a different note I found this book to be very interesting "The Nectar and Pollen Sources of New Zealand"( It is in the Beekeepers' Library on this site under "Planting for Pollinators". Approximately half of the plants are well known in North America and half are completely foreign.

  4. That is a handy little book, I had a copy until lending it out and not getting it back ! I always write the loaner`s name in my diary now. NZ has a huge number of exotic plants growing here plus an excellent selection of native flora which bees love. Having a temperate climate over most of the country,most things grow, some out of control ! The early settlers brought plants like gorse and broom with both spreading out into the countryside and becoming real pests. There have been many garden escapees which are now pests.

  5. Although Vancouver is temperate in climate it is the only small segment of the largest geographical country in the world that is so vulnerable to invasive plants. I have lived in many parts of the country including the Rocky Mountains where 30 below is ok as along as the wind is not blowing. In Vancouver the main problem invasive plants are the Himalayan Blackberry and the English Ivy. Despite their invasive nature most people like the blackberries.

  6. Blackberries are rampant here but so lovely to pick and eat, the ones that haven`t been sprayed that is ! Most plants that arrived early like berries, ivy, old mans beard, ginger and the list goes on, are wild and out of control in parts, tradscantia being one of the worst.

  7. The tradescantia is an invasive problem in the southern U.S. but does not like our colder winters so is not a problem for us.


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