August 29, 2013

Bees in Yorktown VA

Cornwallis surrendered in Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781 and the independence of the U.S. was set. Later, during Civil War days, Yorktown was again besieged, this time by Union forces. Since the 1950s, the annual battle of the mosquitoes takes place and this year quite a few honeybees have died. These victims did not get the news alert that York County had approved aerial sprayings this year before dusk when they were still out of their hives, doing what honeybees do.

Dibrom (naled) is the insecticide of choice for controlling those pesky mosquitoes. It is a type of nerve agent and does to bees what we have seen in recent photos in Syria. Death by nerve agent is not pretty. "Morbid" is Dibrom spelled backwards. Some chemist had a morbid sense of humor.

According to the manufacturer's info, "this product is toxic to fish, birds, and other wildlife" and protective clothing and goggles should be worn during spraying. NOT available in bee hives!

Sprayings in past years had occurred at dusk, but for some reason, not this year. Perhaps saner minds will delay further sprayings to after sunset to give the little guys a chance. The honeybee population is already decimated by colony collapse disorder and the verdict is still out on that cause. But pesticides are the obvious culprit. 

Florida uses vast amounts of Dibrom to control their mosquitoes and we were probably exposed to it in Belize this summer when a guy with a sprayer on his back walked past the restaurant in which we were dining. That definitely ruined my dinner.

The folks at the Colonial Beekeepers Association don't want West Nile disease any more than the rest of us, but they are more than concerned with this annual spraying. 

To read what the Virginia Department of Health says about it, check out https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/Epidemiology/DEE/publichealthtoxicology/documents/pdf/dibromq&a.pdf