Quantcast

At Least 1 Million Bees Found Dead in Cape Town

Animals
Mark Helm / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Beekeepers in and around Cape Town, South Africa are facing significant losses of their pollinators in recent weeks.

The mass deaths have been linked to an insecticide called fipronil that was likely incorrectly used by the area's wine farmers, according to media reports.


Brendan Ashley-Cooper, the vice-chairperson of Western Cape Bee Industry Association, told the BBC about 100 of his hives were affected and between 1 million and 1.5 million bees died.

"A week ago we started getting calls that beekeepers were finding dead bees in front of their hives. I came to inspect my bee site and found similar results and found thousands upon thousands of dead bees in front of a lot of my bee hives," the commercial farmer told South African broadcaster eNCA.

Millions of bees poisoned www.youtube.com

The beekeepers suspected that the area's wine farmers were spraying their vineyards with a mix of ant poison and molasses, the Weekend Argus reported last week.

Ashley-Cooper sent a sample of the mixture to a laboratory in Cape Town, which determined that fipronil was the main ingredient in the sample, the West Argus reported over the weekend. The wine farmers have since stopped using the pesticide.

Other area beekeepers lost hives, including Lawrence Woollam, who told the West Argus his business will be severely impacted after losing between 90 percent and 100 percent of his bees.

Fipronil is a broad-spectrum insecticide used to control ants, beetles, cockroaches, fleas, ticks, termites and other insects. It works by disrupting the central nervous system of invertebrates.

As the South African explained, the bees were likely attracted to the sweetness of the molasses. After ingesting the potent mixture, they brought it back to their hives and infected the rest of their colony.

Both wild and managed bee hives in Cape Town's southern areas were affected, Ashley-Cooper told the BBC.

Honey bees and wild bees are vital for crop pollination and are a critical part of our food system. One out of every three bites of food we eat is dependent on bees for pollination, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. However, bee populations are crashing around the world due to factors such as neonicotinoids, habitat loss and disease.

The Cape Town beekeepers, wine farmers and the government are now working together to find a solution to the problem. Further tests will be conducted to confirm whether the pesticide is to blame.

"The farmers have been very concerned about the bee die-off. We're having meetings with the farmers in the next couple of days to have a look if they have caused this problem and to see if we can find solutions," Ashley-Cooper told eNCA.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Emily Deanne

Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.

Read More Show Less
Kokia drynarioides, commonly known as Hawaiian tree cotton, is a critically endangered species of flowering plant that is endemic to the Big Island of Hawaii. David Eickhoff / Wikipedia

By Lorraine Chow

Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Frederick Bass / Getty Images

States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
A couple works in their organic garden. kupicoo / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristin Ohlson

From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A competitor in action during the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland on April 9, 2001. Michael Steele / Allsport / Getty Images

Greenland is open for business, but it's not for sale, Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters after hearing that President Donald Trump asked his advisers about the feasibility of buying the world's largest island.

Read More Show Less
AFP / Getty Images / S. Platt

Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.

Read More Show Less
Newly established oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Hans Nicholas Jong

Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.

It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."

Read More Show Less