P.R. Bees Saved From Aerial Spraying
SAN JUAN – After the U.S. press published that millions of breeding bees died due to aerial spraying against the Zika-transmitting mosquito Aedes aegypti in the city of Summerville, South Carolina, P.R. Agriculture Secretary Myrna Comas Pagán acknowledged that if aerial spraying had been approved for the island, the same could have happened in Puerto Rico.
Comas Pagán made the declarations following a meeting with Comité Timón (Steering Committee) about the Zika virus in Fortaleza, along with Health Secretary Ana Ríus Armendáriz and the Fire Chief Ángel Crespo, who is also the director of the State Agency for Emergency and Disaster Management (Aemead by its Spanish initials).
“The information we have about the spraying is they were carried out in morning hours outside of the local DA’s recommended hours. If the spraying had been done here, we recommended them to be done at 6 p.m., since at that hour bees harbor naturally and in that case they wouldn’t have been exposed, like what happened in South Carolina,” explained the secretary as she clarified that the bees were raised by the state’s local beekeepers.
Comas Pagán assured that wild bees behave similarly to bred honeybees.
“Regularly, bees that are in a wild state tend to hide in caves, tree holes or structures. Due to their own nature, whether wild or bred, bees retrieve to their hives at around 5:30 p.m.,” she said.
Regarding multi-sectorial efforts to fight the spread of the Zika virus, Comas Pagán explained that her agency is currently supporting municipalities in the calibration of the spraying equipment.
“On our agenda, we have the calibration of equipment at the municipal level. The eight spraying equipment used by the Health Department are properly calibrated and we have impacted southern municipalities, where we have been calibrating all the equipment from Caguas and southern municipalities. Now we will impact the northern and southwestern areas of the [island], and next week we will calibrate in the municipality of San Germán and the northeastern region,” she said.
“This is for ground spraying that is being conducted with deltamethrin. It’s really important for municipalities to take their equipment to be calibrated according to this pesticide. Every time there is a pesticide change, the equipment must be calibrated so they may be adjusted to the particular one to be used, thus assuring that the spraying is effective,” she said, adding that the equipment’s calibration is performed with Agriculture funds and personnel. However, deltamethrin use is covered by the Health Department in coordination with the municipalities.