Summerville beekeeper says her colony was wiped out by insecticide spray
EDITOR'S NOTE: Officials in Dorchester County say a notice about spraying was sent out Friday, August 26, 2016 at 9:15 a.m. The spraying was done almost two days later (45 hours and 15 minutes after notice). Homeowners we spoke to say they only received 10 hours notice from the county.
Beekeepers in Dorchester County say they only had about ten hours to prepare for mosquito spraying that happened Sunday morning.
Officials posted information on the insecticide, Naled.
"Although Naled does pose some risk to aquatic invertebrates (such as shrimp and water fleas) and terrestrial wildlife, it dissipates rapidly and does not persist in the environment," the county posted Saturday night.
"Risks to aquatic and terrestrial wildlife exist for only a short time, and long term exposure from its use for mosquito control is unlikely."
Beekeepers said it's not enough notice to protect their bees from the spray but it only took minutes to kill Andrew Macke's bees.
"Our bees are dying at an alarming rate -- by the thousands," Macke's wife said over the phone Sunday.
Juanita Stanley has 46 hives. She had nearly three million bees before the county sprayed.
"I knew when I got to my bee yard it was bad," Stanley said. "I couldn't hear anything. It was silent and I came down here and as you can see now there's little activity. The only activity you see now are the ones that are left, that are sick and contaminated, trying to get the dead bees out of the hives."
Stanley stared at her hives Monday in disbelief.
"They're trying to clean their hive out because they're stressed," Stanley said. "They know there's something wrong. They know that's bad and they're trying to get them out of there to get that cleaned up."
Dorchester officials told ABC News 4 it's the first time they've used aerial spraying. Scott Gaskins said the county usually sprays from the road.
"They passed right over the trees three times," Stanley said. "Today it's a morgue. It feels just like death to me down here. There's nothing. There's nothing left, really."
Honey runs through her blood. Stanley said her family has been beekeeping for decades.
"My children's great great great grandfather -- we have documentation and pictures of him having bees."
"I can't wrap my head around aerial spraying poison," Macke said.
He was the bearer of bad news Monday morning when he knocked on Stanley's door with a warning.
"You completely lost your whole business because somebody had or didn't have the knowledge to think that spraying a poison -- by airplane -- was a good idea."
Signs surround Stanley's property. They warn the outside world to help keep people safe.
"When I started this apiary my mission was to raise healthy bees so that other beekeepers could have bees because it's not that easy to find honeybees," Stanley said.
She said the county should have warned her they were spraying. Gaskins said it is his job to do so but Stanley said she never got the call.
Now officials are looking into how this happened and whether the spray is too toxic for wildlife.