Darcee O’Hearn found her honey bees dead a few weeks ago, all showing signs of poisoning. Since then the two queen bees have also died. Photos: Darcee O’Hearn

Darcee O’Hearn found her honey bees dead a few weeks ago, all showing signs of poisoning. Since then the two queen bees have also died. Photos: Darcee O’Hearn

Kootenay beekeeping family urges caution with chemicals after 2 hives poisoned

Darcee O’Hearn recalls hearing what sounded like raindrops, but was actually her bees dying

A Trail family is urging people – near and far – to stop using toxic herbicides and pesticides.

Instead, go with natural alternatives that are friendly to the environment and all the life within it.

This plea from the O’Hearn-Stone family follows the grim demise of two beehives they have so lovingly tended to over the past few years.

Thousands of sweet little pollinators and their two fierce queens are dead after the workers bees came into contact with an unknown toxin while out on a forage – likely toxic chemicals sprayed on plants or trees – and brought it back to the hive.

“I first noticed that on a beautiful sunny day my bees did not fly out of their hive to forage,” began Darcee O’Hearn. “I found it very odd because they had been very active since our warmer weather.”

A dead bee with its tongue hanging out, a sure sign of poison. Photo: Darcee O’Hearn

A dead bee with its tongue hanging out, a sure sign of poison. Photo: Darcee O’Hearn

O’Hearn recalls relaxing in her backyard the afternoon of March 16 when she heard what sounded like raindrops coming from the hives.

“When I turned to see what the sound was, I was sickened by what I saw,” she told the Trail Times. “My bees were literally dropping from the skies, rolling out of their hives and crawling around on the ground unable to fly or orient themselves.

“It was horrible.”

She called a fellow beekeeper for a second opinion. When they opened the hives, it was very clear by the bees’ behavior as they spun and skipped on top of the frames and in front of their hives, that they were most likely poisoned.

“I cannot determine where the poison came from, but they showed all the signs of toxic poisoning,” O’Hearn explained.

Those signs include a sudden drop in foragers, a large mat of dead bees in front of the hive or on the bottom board, spinning, skipping, erratic behavior, an inability to fly, and “tongues” hanging out.

As the family’s hives are kept in a fenced yard, O’Hearn suspects when the forager bees went to look for water or nectar, the animals carried harsh chemicals back to the hive on their fur.

“Because bees can fly up to two kilometres to forage, our communities must come together and protect backyard bees, bumblebees, sweat bees, butterflies, leaf cutters, and other foragers who collect nectar,” O’Hearn said. “Also negatively affected are birds, beetles, various flies and anything else that indulges on nectar or pollen and has the ability to transfer pollen.”

The O’Hearn-Stone family’s dead honey bees. Photo: Darcee O’Hearn

The O’Hearn-Stone family’s dead honey bees. Photo: Darcee O’Hearn

There are no laws that will convince people to stop using herbicides and pesticides.

“But with education and learning more about our bees, it will become impossible to ignore and there will be a natural and conscious decision made to stop using toxic chemicals to manage our weeds and pests,” O’Hearn added.

“However, it is extremely important to stop now, before it’s too late.”

Instead of using toxic chemicals, O’Hearn urges locals to use natural alternatives. For those who don’t want to pull weeds or pay someone to do the job, spraying diluted pickling vinegar on weeds in warm weather will dry them up.

Blasting aphids with cold water and a castile soapy solution are some easy and cheap ways to protect crops and importantly – the bees.

Another suggestion is to avoid weeding all together with a rock garden or xeriscape, and place fresh water out for the foragers. For those willing to forgo chemicals and weed using only muscle, plant plenty of flowers and perennials which attract bees, with succession in mind, so they can forage all season long.

“If natural alternatives are not an option for you, there are ways to decrease the impact to bees,” says O’Hearn.

For those insistent on spraying dandelions, pull the heads off and spray in the evening.

Contact your local beekeepers when you spray so they can lock up their bees until it is safe to release them, she reasoned.

“Ask yourself, would you eat your fruits or vegetables without washing them after they’ve been sprayed?”

Each time an “icide” chemical is used, countless colonies of bees, butterflies and other vital foragers are affected, likely eliminated.

There is a better way.

“If we don’t take care of bees we will not be able to grow food locally,” O’Hearn stressed. “We need natural pollinators and backyard bees to sustain us. And this is not negotiable.”

With her bees and queen bees dead from poison, the mom-of-two says she will no longer keep hives within city limits.

“Because I can no longer stomach caring for these beautiful providers and then watching them die,” she shared. “It is senseless and preventable.”

Read more: Rossland teen heartbroken after his hives are poisoned

Read more: Good causes acknowledged by choice



newsroom@trailtimes.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City of TrailEnvironment

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Photo: Darcee O'Hearn

Photo: Darcee O'Hearn

Just Posted

As part of Earth Week, Ucluelet Rotary Club member Ryan Wackett will be handing out free Clean Up Packages with grabber picker up tools at his shop Westcoast Connect from April 10 to 23. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet Rotary honours Earth Day with week long community clean up

“Let’s spring into action and clean up our beautiful communities!”

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour closures coming to Hwy. 4 between Port Alberni and Tofino-Ucluelet

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control maps showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 4-10. (BCCDC image)
Parksville-Qualicum passes Nanaimo in new COVID-19 cases

Greater Victoria had more new cases than any other Island area: B.C. Centre for Disease Control

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
WATCH: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song and performance

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Ucluelet locals Rachael, Caroline and Tom enjoy refreshments on a sunny Monday afternoon at a picnic table dining area set up by the District of Ucluelet to help residents and visitors support local businesses while staying outside. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Ucluelet chamber launches bingo contest to support local restaurants

Four Ucluelet Co-op shopping sprees are up for grabs in #Ukee2go competition.

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

Thw male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

Valen a student of Coldstream Elementary writes advice for adults amid a pandemic.
‘We can get rid of COVID together’: B.C. kids share heartwarming advice

Elementary students share their wisdom to adults in unprecedented times

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. health minister says delay in Moderna vaccine ‘disappointing’

‘The sooner we get vaccines in people’s arms the better, and inconsistency in delivery is a consistent problem. This is simply a reality and not an issue of blame,’ Adrian Dix said Friday

(Police handout/Kamloops RCMP)
B.C. man dies in custody awaiting trial for Valentine’s Day robbery, kidnapping spree

Robert James Rennie, who was on the Kamloops RCMP’s most wanted list, passed away at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Coquitlam

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks to return to play Sunday versus Leafs after COVID-19 outbreak

The team has had 11 games postponed since an outbreak late last month

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Island woman on fence about vaccine prompted by brother’s death

Leela Harrop of Comox says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Most Read