Experts determine Wilsonville bee die-off caused by insecticide

Experts determine Wilsonville bee die-off caused by insecticide »Play Video
Rich Hatfield of the Xerces Society holds a plastic test tube full of dead bumblebees he collected in a Target parking lot in Wilsonville. He and his partner determined the bees were exposed to an insecticide that is toxic to them.

WILSONVILLE, Ore. – Thousands of bumblebees mysteriously dropped dead around the trees in the parking lot of the Wilsonville Target store.

The mystery brought out bee experts Wednesday who determined the bees died after being exposed to a common insecticide called Safari. The property manager had recently applied it to the trees in the last week or so.

The bees littered the parking lot. And Mace Vaughn and his partner, Rich Hatfield, of the Xerces Society, picked up dead bees with tweezers and put them in plastic test tubes to test them.

The Xerces Society is a group dedicated to preserving native bees and other inspects.

"Losing 25,000 or more bumblebees – we've lost a hundred, a hundred fifty colonies at least just from this area – just wiped them out," said Vaughn.

The trees are European Linden. They produce both nectar and pollen that bees love. The trees were still attracting bees Wednesday but soon they dropped to the ground and struggled for their last breaths.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture is still deciding what to do with the trees – netting or repellants were being discussed.