The curious case of honey bees dropping dead on the Papamoa Beach shoreline has apiarists and a coastal ranger scratching their heads as to why this might be happening.
Carrington Drive resident Heather McMillan was starting her Tuesday afternoon beach walk when she came across a number of bees on the shoreline in an outgoing tide, through a bee sting.
Tauranga City Council coastal park ranger Stephanie Brackstone does not think spraying is behind bees dying on the beach.
“I got stung and my dog got stung because they were just lying wriggling in the sand,” she says.
“They were right on the shoreline and they were actually wet.”
Setting off south from Grant Place at around 3pm, Heather says the bees were spaced out every three metres and more frequent at times, and as a bee lover she became upset.
Heather recalls seeing a council sign at Wairakei Storm Water Reserve indicating spraying in recent weeks, but is reluctant to link the two together.
“I don’t want to even go there, but it’s a bit of a coincidence.
“I wonder if the bees have been poisoned and why they are dying in the sand.”
Returning to the beach this morning Heather says it is likely the bees have been swept out to sea following yesterday’s king tide.
She is not sure whether the bees were located north of the Grant Place entrance or just concentrated to where she was walking.
Tauranga City Council coastal park ranger Stephanie Brackstone is not aware of any spraying at the reserve and says council routinely spray the “odd plant” opposed to blanket spraying one area.
Stephanie says; “The fact is pesticides effect invertebrates and herbicides effect plants, so it’s not highly likely that the herbicide has crossed into the invertebrate membrane.
“But I do know that there are certain environmental things and events, like that king tide, bees orientate to. That would be what I’d look at.”
She says the bees are usually found in the dunes later in summer when the Muehlenbekia flowers, using it as a food source.
“I sort of see them arriving in December and staying usually till when the kids go back to school in January.”
Kaimai Range Honey owner Jody Mitchell isn’t ruling out spraying of some sort, believing surfactants and oils in certain sprays can suffocate bees or hamper their breathing.
She says heading into summer there is “quite a lot” of spraying happening and in the case of the bees on the beach, getting near the water doesn’t help.
“It’s a bit odd,” she says. “Sometimes they can get disorientated and confused with sprays and stuff because it mucks with how they orientate themselves.”