June 20, 2013
An estimated 25,000 dead bumblebees were discovered this Monday near a Target parking lot in Wilsonville, Oregon.
Starting last Sunday, shoppers began noticing dead bumblebees falling from the trees in the shopping center plaza, home to roughly 65 European Linden trees.
The nonprofit conservation group, The Xerces Society, says calls began pouring in the following Monday, with reports of an incredible die off underway.
“To our knowledge, this is one of the largest documented bumble bee deaths in the Western U.S. It was heartbreaking to watch,” said Xerces Conservation Biologist Rich Hatfield.
The deaths likely represent the loss of as many as 150 bumblebee colonies, which are vital to Oregon agriculture. Dead honey bees and lady bird beetles were also discovered.
Members of Xerces, including Pollinator Conservation Program Director Mace Vaughan, immediately notified the Oregon Department of Agriculture, while also collecting specimens themselves. Vaugh plans to send the dead bees to an independent North Carolina lab that specializes in testing for the presence of pesticides.
“I’ve never seen any sort of a die-off of bumblebees on this scale,” said Vaughan.
After opening an investigation, the Oregon Department of Agriculture confirmed that pesticides had recently been sprayed on the trees.
“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, an Oregon Department of Agriculture Representative.
According to Xerces Executive Director Scott Hoffman Black, the cause of death is likely from acute pesticide poisoning or the European Linden trees themselves, which are known to have poisonous species.
“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. On the other hand, if pesticides are the cause, we need to spotlight this as a real-world lesson in the harm these toxic chemicals are causing to beneficial insects,” said Black.
Studies continue to point to pesticides as the major factor in falling bee numbers.
A recent study carried out by the European Food Safety Authority found that Bayer’s Clothianidin, a neuroactive pesticide used on 90 percent of US corn crops, is highly dangerous to bees.
A 2012 UK study by the University of Stirling found that bees consuming only one pesticide suffered an 85 percent loss in the number of queens their nests produced.
Another study last year by Purdue University found that the amount of pesticide coated on one kernel of corn alone was enough to kill tens of thousands of bees.
Pesticide giants such as Monsanto, Dow and Bayer have continued to deny any connection or wrongdoing despite the growing evidence to the contrary.
Mikael Thalen’s article first appeared at Secretsofthefed.com. He is the new head writer there, and his articles have been featured on sites such as Daily Sheeple, Natural News and Occupy Monsanto. During his time at Examiner.com, he was frequently ranked the number one political writer.