Agriculture department says bees poisoned by fipronil
By Rachel Gehrlein. Kauai Garden Island News.

December 4, 2007.


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Agriculture department says bees poisoned by fipronil.
By Rachel Gehrlein. Kauai Garden Island News.

December 4, 2007.
- See original article

MOLOA‘A — More than a month has passed since 14-year-old Sage Lane discovered dead bees in his silent beehives on his parent’s property in Moloa‘a. After being tested by the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, the family’s worst fear has been realized: The bees were poisoned.

Although an investigation is close to being finished, the DOA has confirmed to the Lane family it had found traces of the pesticide Fipronil.

“They said the highest level of pesticide was in the honey,” said Jaylen Lane, Sage’s mother

“The second highest level was in the pollen. The dead bees on the inside had the third highest level while the bees on the outside had the fourth highest. The outside of the hive had the lowest level.”

Due to the ongoing investigation, Bob Boesch and Ann Kam of the DOA said they could not comment for this story.

According to Lane, the DOA told her that Fipronil cannot be bought over the counter and has to be administered by a licensed pest control company. Currently, the DOA is investigating possible pesticide use near the Lane property.

Fipronil is a pesticide that blocks the normal nerve functions of the central nervous system, killing insects by contact and ingestion. Fipronil is found in granular turf products, flea and tick sprays, flea and tick topical solutions and roach and ant baits. According to the National Pesticide Telecommunications Network fact sheet, “Fipronil is toxic to bees and should not be applied to vegetation when bees are foraging.”

John Stem, a Terminix field representative in Kaua‘i, agrees. According to Stem, Fipronil is a non-repellent insecticide that bees cannot detect while foraging. The bees then bring the poison back to the hive, killing other bees and possibly the entire hive.

Lane is concerned about the high levels of Fipronil found in the honey.

“The other bees could have taken the contaminated honey and honeycomb back to other hives,” Lane said. “I don’t believe we had the only two hives on island that have been effected.”

Lane also worries that contaminated honey could be ingested by humans.

While waiting for the results of the DOA investigation, the Lane family is working on finding new hives for Sage.

“At the beginning of all this it was very hard for him,” Lane said. “He misses having the bees. Now he’s in the wait-and-see mode.”

Lane herself also misses the bees. Not only were the bees important to their farm by pollinating the young trees and plants, they benefited the neighbors as well. Everyone will notice the loss of the bees come harvest time, she said.

Lane says the DOA recommended that the family burn all the hives so “robber” bees don’t take the contaminated honey to other hives. The Lane’s followed the recommendation and burned all affected hives.

After the Lane family puts bees back on the property, they hope the DOA will test the first crop of honey, “so we will have a better picture of what is going on,” according to Lane.

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• See also: Possible culprit identified in decline of honeybees. The Star-Ledger (Newark NJ). May 28, 2007.

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