Local beekeepers express concern over routine mosquito sprays

Local beekeepers concerned about routine mosquito sprays
Posted at 8:40 PM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-29 08:02:03-04

Some people may appreciate relief from mosquito spraying across Acadiana, but local beekeepers are concerned that the companies contracted by local parish governments are using pesticides that are harmful to bees.

Aerial vice president of Vector Disease Control International, Daniel Markowski, told KATC these routine sprays must be done, and are usually scheduled after severe weather when mosquitoes are stirred up as experienced with Ida and Nicholas.

"They're worried that we're gonna come across, we're going to come out there, we're going to do our applications and you know essentially cover everything outside with pesticide and kill their bees," Markowski said. "And it's certainly a valid concern."

Markowski said his company is taking the steps to minimize the chemical footprint left behind from these sprays by working with the state -- while keeping bee colonies and their keepers in mind.

"We feel that we can get control at much lower rates, so we've gone half an ounce, half the maximum amount we could legally," Markowski said. "So we decreased that as much as we can and I think it still gives us a certain level of control on the mosquitoes, but again it puts half as much product in the environment that could impact non-target organisms."

Keith Guidroz is the president of the Acadiana Beekeeper's Association. While he isn't concerned for his own hives, he said he acknowledges the work that VDCI is putting in to save the bees. He noted some keepers in his chapter are still skeptical.

"You don't really know, I mean you have a yard, you have ten yards, and they're all really good, and then one just has a big die off," Guidroz said. "What caused it? Was it somebody spraying something, or is it just something local to, you know, pertaining to the area? It's kind of hard to determine what has caused it."

Guidroz told KATC he recommends that those concerned take a sample of their dead bees to get tested to get a definite answer regarding the cause of death.

Markowski said he understands the anxiety these routine mosquito sprays can cause people to have, but regardless, they must go on in order to keep residents safe. He said one major way beekeepers can calm their nerves is by registering their hives.

"We did some applications last week and they weren't registered for various reasons, so I don't even know they exist," Markowski said. "If I know they exist ahead of time, I can help to avoid them and just, if anything else, let them know what's going on."

Those interested in registering their hives can visit the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Apiary Division at the link here to print out a permit application that can then be mailed out to the address provided.

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