Pesticide Use Worries Beekeepers

Posted at 5:05 PM, May 10, 2016

As fears over the Zika virus continue to spread, some have turned to pesticides to control the mosquito population.

With that increased pesticide use, comes fears that the chemicals could kill bees, butterflies and other insects.

"They can kill other bees or the brood with the poisons from the pesticide," said beekeeper Rose Mary Drake.

Drake has nearly 80,000 bees in two beehives outside her east Nashville home. On Sunday morning, she noticed a neighbor using pesticides in their yard. She's worried those chemicals may have hurt her hives. 

"I've never experienced this before," she said. " I'm trying to find out what to watch for."

Experts said it's important to only use pesticides at night. That's when bees and other insects aren't as active as they are during the day. Communication with neighbors is also important.

"Communication is key," Dr. Frank Hale said. "You've got to talk to your neighbors make sure they know what you're doing."

Hale is an entomologist with the University of Tennessee. He said fears of mosquito-borne viruses like Zika may lead more people to using pesticides. He recommended using pesticides that contain methoprene. The chemical will attack mosquito larvae, while protecting other insects.

"You want to have the right insecticide for the right job," Hale added. 

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