Wilsonville trees netted after 50,000 bees die

Oregon Department of Agriculture crews wrap European Linden trees sprayed with an insecticide that killed 25,000 bees in the parking lot of a Wilsonville Target store, June 21, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Oregon Department of Agriculture crews wrap European Linden trees sprayed with an insecticide that killed 25,000 bees in the parking lot of a Wilsonville Target store. June 21, 2013. (KOIN 6 News)

WILSONVILLE, Ore. (KOIN) — In the aftermath of what is being called the largest mass bumblebee death on record, crews from the Oregon Department of Agriculture wrapped the trees in netting to keep the bees away.

An Oregon Department of Agriculture worker helps wrap European Linden trees sprayed with an insecticide that killed 25,000 bees in the parking lot of a Wilsonville Target store, June 21, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

An Oregon Department of Agriculture worker helps wrap European Linden trees sprayed with an insecticide that killed 25,000 bees in the parking lot of a Wilsonville Target store, June 21, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

Originally, 25,000 bees were thought to have died. But a closer inspection by the Xerces Society puts the number at more than 50,000 bees.

The European Linden trees are in bloom, and the bees are attracted to the highly fragrant flowers.

A bee sits on the finger of an Oregon Department of Agriculture worker in Wilsonville, June 21, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

A bee sits on the finger of an Oregon Department of Agriculture worker in Wilsonville, June 21, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

An ODA investigation found the trees were treated with a pesticide called “safari,” used to control aphids. The landscaping company which applied the pesticide may have done so incorrectly. The Xerces Society suspects that is what caused the massive bee die-off.

“The goal today and over the next couple days is going to be to try and mitigate the damage and rap the trees with netting so we can prevent additional losses from the bumblebees on site,” siad Mace Vaughan of the Xerces Society.

The netting will stay in place for the next two weeks and the experts are confident the netting will protect the bees.

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