HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN) -- The Oregon Department of Agriculture took emergency action Thursday night after thousands of bees died.
As of Thursday, "The Oregon Department of Agriculture is restricting the use of 18 pesticide products containing the active ingredient dinotefuran while it continues the investigation," according to an ODA news release.
Around 50,000 bumble bees turned up dead near a Target store in Wilsonville June 17. Then, just four days later, hundreds more were found dead in Hillsboro.
This was the largest single bee kill anyone on record.
The state of Oregon stepped in Thursday and banned the offending pesticide for six months -- to prevent bee kills like the ones in Wilsonville and Hillsboro.
As of Thursday the trees in the parking lot of the Wilsonville Target store remain wrapped to try to keep flying creatures off the now-toxic blooms. However, there is still a bee or two inside the netting -- dying.
"The mistake was that the trees were sprayed while they were in full bloom," said Dr. Dewey Caron, a local expert in the field of bees and pesticides.
Caron is an affiliate professor of horticulture at Oregon State University. He said the pesticide was sprayed on the trees at exactly the wrong time: early in the day when the full bloom on the trees would have been most attractive to the bees.
"It was a bad oversight," he said. "They should well have been aware that there could have been some collateral damage on some unintended targets."
Oregon's Agriculture Department has banned use of the pesticide for six months. Dr. Caron also said Oregon may rewrite the rules regulating application of the pesticide in the future. The state also could require "enhanced labeling."
Tim Wessels, president of Portland Urban Bee Keepers, keeps bees in his own backyard in northeast Portland. He said improper use of legal retail pesticides is one of several factors resulting in the death of four in every 10 urban pollinating bees. The chief culprit? Many people don't read, and then follow, the labels.
"If you don't pay attention, like what happened here in Wilsonville," Wessels said, "you're going to lose a lot of pollinators."
The pesticide in the Wilsonville bee killings also is being studied as a possible source of longer term, more subtle damage to bee colonies everywhere.
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