A beekeeper in Vernon is worried after finding a carpet of hundreds of dead honeybees outside their hive.
“We would sweep them up at night, and then the next day come back and there would be more, which was the first sign that something unusual was happening,” Olivia Nowek, a spokesperson for Planet Bee Honey Farm, said.
Nowek is alarmed that many of them have extended tongues, which is a possible sign of poisoning, she said.
Some of the bees are wandering around disoriented, she added.
“That also is a sign that they’re not dying from natural causes,” she said.
Nowek suspects the problem could be sprays used for agriculture.
“Those are there to kill harmful pests, but you don’t want to affect the beneficial insects like honeybees and other pollinators,” she said.
“It could even be something as simple as somebody using something in their backyard to kill weeds and not being aware,” she said.
Nowek is reminding people to spray early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid honeybee casualties.
“But if you’re spraying in the middle of the day, there are going to be some innocent victims,” she said.
Nowek collected more than four dozen dead or nearly-dead honeybees for testing at a lab in Abbotsford, but she’s not expecting the results for a while.
UBC Okanagan’s Bee Ambassador Nancy Holmes wants people to consider planting a bee-friendly garden.
It should be at least a one-square-metre patch of plants that flower from spring to fall, she said.
“Bees don’t really like things like begonias or geraniums or petunias. They like yarrow and lavender and the colours yellow and purple and white,” Holmes said. “The more habitat we create, the healthier the bees are going to be.”
The three main challenges facing bees are the overuse of chemicals and pesticides, diseases and a loss of habitat, Nowek said.
“Bees are essential to how we feed ourselves on this planet,” she said. “They’re crucial to our economy, our survival.”