June 27, 2013
A Portland-based Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation was called to the scene to investigate. The bees were found clustered under dozens of European linden trees, the organization believes that the cause of death is likely attributable to acute pesticide poisoning, but are not 100 percent certain. It was recently discovered that that the linden trees were mistakenly sprayed on June 15 with Safari, a potent insecticide.
After several calls at the office I visited the Target store in Wilsonville and found a parking lot full of dead bumble bees underneath blooming European linden trees. They were literally falling out of the trees. To our knowledge this is one of the largest documented bumble bee deaths in the Western U.S. It was heartbreaking to watch – Rich Hatfield, conservation biologists with the Portland Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) was also contacted, they are currently collecting samples to determine whether pesticides were used at the site. 50, 000 bees represents a loss of at least 300 colonies. Each of those colonies could have produced multiple new queens that would have gone on to establish new colonies next year. As we all know, bees are considered vital due to the fact that they are pollinators of many food crops.