Why are bees dying in Pettygrove Park?

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Blythe Dolores Utz was walking through Pettygrove Park about a week ago when she saw more than 100 dead bees. Then she saw more each day.

Blythe Utz alerted the Xerces Society to hundreds of dead bees in Pettygrove Park in Southwest Portland, June 30, 2015 (KOIN)

She called the bee group Xerces Society, which called state authorities.  Another man, Bob Bernstein, heard about the bee die-off and wanted to make sure there was enough evidence.

“I noticed no one had got enough bees for sampling to figure out what caused it,” Bernstein said. “Then I came down here Sunday night at 2 in the morning, gathered up some bees.”

He said he remembers the Wilsonville bee die-off from 2 years ago. In that case the Department of Agriculture concluded the 50,000 bees were killed by an insecticide used by a landscaping company that was improperly sprayed to kill aphids on the Linden trees in a Target parking lot.

Pettygrove Park in Southwest Portland, June 30, 2015 (KOIN)

The trees in Pettygrove Park are also Linden trees. The state is looking into whether a similar insecticide is to blame.

Neonicotinoids were banned this spring by both the City of Portland and the State of Oregon. But it’s possible someone had the insecticide from before it was banned.

Or the bees may be dying from natural causes.

Linden trees secrete a sugar toxic to bees. That may be to blame and may have contributed to the Wilsonville bee die-off of 2013.KOIN 6 News reporters Chris Woodard and Dan Tilkin contributed to this report.

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