Thousands of honey bees die in 1 day at Rehoboth colony

REHOBOTH, Mass. (WPRI) — An investigation is underway in Rehoboth after tens of thousands of honey bees died in a single day.

The beekeeper lost both of his hives. Officials said it was the first reported colony loss in the south coast this year.

Eric Pilotte, president of the Bristol County Beekeepers Association, said a member of the group noticed last week that his bees were dying at an incredibly fast rate.

“Immediately was sort of taken aback by the volume of death and how quickly it happened,” Pilotte said. “It was within a 24-hour period.”

“He only had two hives, so it’s completely devastating for him to basically lose all of his bees,” he added.

According to Pilotte, bees will fly two to three miles away from their hive to find nectar and pollen, so it’s possible some of the bees picked up a contaminant along the way and brought it back to the hive.

“All indications are it was some type of pesticide or insecticide that’s the culprit,” Pilotte said. “In this case, they were able to bring back some of those contaminants and I think that’s what spread like wildfire through the hive.”

Pilotte said this is just one of the many reasons why it’s so important to follow the directions and regulations when spraying pesticides.

“Rehoboth actually has quite a few, so a lot of those members and beekeepers up there are quite upset about the situation,” he said. “But they’re also concerned like, ‘is this going to happen to us next?'”

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources said it’s involved with the investigation.