@Michael_Bush I know.
The following letter was written to the reporter. I cc’d the Superintendant of Schools and the district spokesperson.
I’m writing in reference to the April 16th article titled “Local company protecting children from Zika virus.”
The article raised particular concerns to me as I am a beekeeper and a Cherokee County elementary school is only about 800 feet away from my home in Ball Ground. I have 2 hives myself and I personally know of two other beekeepers who keep multiple hives less than 1.5 miles from Ball Ground Elementary as well. Also of concern was the motivation, need and photos of application that accompanied the article.
GrassRoots Tree and Turf Care’s efforts to eradicate the Aedes aegypti mosquito which can carry the Zika virus (which no one in the entire country has contracted through a mosquito bite while in the U.S.: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/united-states.html) is clearly unnecessary and subsequently could likely harm our local honeybee populations.
Bees travel quite a distance in search of pollen and nectar. Some “scout” bees can fly very long distances however, it is well known that bees tend to forage within 2.0 km (1.4 miles) of their hive if there are adequate, attractive resources in the vicinity (Pedersen et al. 1972; Osborne et al. 2001). If not though, they will readily travel farther.
As I am sure you are aware, Colony Collapse Disorder is a very real threat to bee colonies here in the US and while no one factor can solely be blamed for the cause of CCD, pesticides are pointed to as a major contributor.
The pesticide used by GrassRoots for mosquitoes goes by the brand name “Maverik.” (Label: http://www.centralgrower.com/uploads/products/MavrikSpecLabel.pdf)
The Maverik label states, “It is a violation of Federal Law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.” The label also states, with regard to honeybees, “Treat during non-foraging periods to minimize adverse effects.” It is evident in the images that accompany your article that the previous application at our county schools took place during the day which was during a bee foraging period. Bees forage virtually from sunup to sundown.
“It is known that the foraging activity of honey bees is initiated in early morning and finishes in the evening.”
(The foraging behaviour of honey bees, Apis mellifera: a review - H.F. Abou-Shaara)
Privet grows at the edge of most of our school property lines and it grows prolifically around Ball Ground Elementary. The shrubs being sprayed by GrassRoots in your article’s photos are indeed privet.
Privet is a major source of forage for bees here in Cherokee county and begins to bloom in April. GrassRoots’ next scheduled spraying is April 30th.
The active ingredient in Maverik is tau-fluvalinate. Tau-fluvalinate is not excessively toxic in very small doses to honey bees, but fogging an entire area during foraging time, in foraging areas is absolutely enough to kill or stress the bees which makes them more susceptible to death from the other issues that bees deal with daily. Fogging entire areas, is not small doses. It is a direct liquid application.
Bees that are not killed directly by the ill-timed application will carry the residual pesticide back to the hive on both their bodies and in the pollen/nectar they collect where it then becomes embedded into the hives’ wax cells and honey which builds up over time. GrassRoots plans multiple treatments giving opportunity to increased exposure and increased embedding into the hive.
With regard to personal safety equipment (PPE) the Maverik label states:
All mixers, loaders, applicators and other handlers must wear:
• Long-sleeved shirt and long pants
• Shoes plus socks
• Chemical-resistant gloves, and
• A NIOSH approved respirator with a dust/mist filter
with MSHA/NIOSH approval number prefix TC-21C or
R, P, or HE filter.”
It clear that GrassRoots Tree and Turf Care has a clear disregard for both labeling instructions, and personal safety, as indicated in this photo.
While no one wants any harm to come to anyone from the Zika virus and that the stories we all see out of Latin America and the Caribbean are heartbreaking, it is evident that the Zika virus is not present in our U.S. mosquito population at this time,application instructions are not being followed and putting beneficial insects and local bee populations at risk, and personal safety procedures are not being followed as evidenced in the photos accompanying your article.
GrassRoots Tree and Turf Care’s efforts to “give back” by “protecting children from Zika virus” and trading mosquito abatement services at our county schools in exchange for the opportunity to send home literature with the over 40,000 students in Cherokee county can clearly be seen for what it is – an attempt to gain access to residential accounts through the incitement of fear by a company that, in violation of Federal law, does not follow application labeling instructions regarding honeybee foraging and disregards the personal safety of its employees.
I am cc’ing CCSD spokesperson Barbara Jacobi, School Board Attorney Tom Roach, and our new Superintendent, Dr. Brian V. Hightower in hopes that CCSD immediately halts the spraying given the demonstrable lack of need , the vendors’ inability to follow labeling instructions and the subsequent risks that improper spraying poses to beneficial pollinators and how that contributes to Colony Collapse Disorder.
Educating our students and families to utilize proper clothing, the use of safe personal deterrents that contain DEET and the eradication of mosquito breeding areas will prove far more effective and less negatively impactful.