Thousands of dead bees were found in a Target parking lot in Wilsonville, Oregon early this week. This discovery is being named the one of the largest mass deaths of bees in the Western US, a local environmental organization says.
The bees “were literally falling out of the trees,” said Rich Hatfield, a Xerces Society conservation biologist. “To our knowledge this is one of the largest documented bumble bee deaths in the Western U.S. It was heartbreaking to watch.”
The dead bumblebees were found under dozens of European linden trees Monday, which now raises the question of whether the bees were killed by a poisonous species of linden tree or by pesticide poisoning.
“If the trees are indeed toxic, they should be cut down and replaced by something that will provide non-toxic pollen and nectar for bees,” said Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society. “On the other hand, if pesticides are the cause, we need to spotlight this real-world lesson in the harm these toxic chemicals are causing to beneficial insects.”
The dead bumblebees represent a loss of more than 150 colonies. Bees weren’t the only insect found dead. Hatfield noted dead honeybees, lady bird beetles and other insects.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture opened an investigation to find out what the case is for all these bees to be dead in such a great mass.
“We’re aware of a pesticide application in the vicinity, but have not yet identified the active ingredient. We are in the process of interviewing parties that may have applied the pesticide,” said Dale Mitchell with the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
Mace Vaughan, Pollinator Conservation Program Director with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and his staff have collected samples and are sending them to a lab in North Carolina that specifically does tests for insecticides in bees and flowers.
Vaughan said this is devastating because bumblebees are incredibly important to us all.
Bees have been dying off in the U.S. since 2005, and has greatly reduced the number available bees to pollinate many of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, reports the Huffington Post.
25,000 dead bees found in Wilsonville, Oregon
Experts are investigating why 25,000 bees were found dead or dying in a parking lot at a Target store.
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