Winery attributed massive bee die-off to controversial pesticide

Posted at 12:36 AM, May 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-01 00:36:06-04

Dundee, OR — The owner of an Oregon winery thinks the deaths of thousands of bees on his property this spring could be related to the use of a controversial pesticide.

John Paul thought the thousands of bees that died last year had something to do with the hard winter in 2014, so this year he expected the bees to thrive. Instead, all three hives and more than 100,000 bees were dead by the end of March.

“I have a feeling they got into something somewhere out there, because all of a sudden, I came out here one day and it was just dead bees all over the place,” said Paul.

Paul uses bees to pollinate the cover crops, like clover and mustard, which help nurture his vineyard. He suspects pesticides might have something to do with the bee deaths, particularly the widespread use of Neonicotinoid pesticides, which studies have linked to bee die-offs.

Neoicotinoids are banned in the UK, and the City of Portland recently joined Eugene and Seattle in banning their use on city-owned property.

Paul would like to eventually see a more comprehensive ban on the products.

“I think when people start to understand what the issues are here with these, then the public’s going to be against it. And when the public’s against it, things happen,” said Paul.

Manufacturers of pesticides containing Neonicotinoids have criticized the studies linking their products to bee mortality, citing other studies that contradict the findings.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently reviewing the use of Neonicotinoid pesticides. The review is expected to be completed by 2019.