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BeeCheck Helps Keep Beehives Safe Of Pesticides

John Rintoul, Beehives, Bees, Honey Bee
Leoneda Inge
John Rintoul of Orange County Beekeepers manages the beehives at Carrboro High School.

The BeeCheck mapping system is getting a lot of attention in North Carolina since an aerial pesticide spraying in South Carolina killed millions of honey bees.

John Rintoul of Orange County Beekeepers manages the beehives at Carrboro High School. 

"They don't care about you, they care about finding nectar, finding pollen and bringing it back," said Rintoul.

He signed up for BeeCheck as soon as he heard about it from the state Agriculture Department.

"I have two backyard beehives as well and it lets your neighbors know that you’ve got bees," said Rintoul.

Since the aerial spraying mishap in South Carolina, 140 beekeepers have registered their hives with BeeCheck, bringing the state total to 913, according to Patrick Jones, Deputy Director of Pesticide Programs at the NC Department of Agriculture. The mapping software alerts farmers and pesticide applicators to the location of hives. It’s free and voluntary.

In South Carolina, the county doing all the spraying was trying to combat mosquitos that could be carrying the Zika virus.

Karla Boyce-Awai lives in Hillsborough and has two back-yard beehives.

"I was very upset and worried about what had happened... but you know, I think the state was doing what it had to do to control Zika," said Boyce-Awai. "But at the same time, it’s very unfortunate."

Only a dozen states use the BeeCheck mapping software. South Carolina reportedly uses a different system. Sign-up in North Carolina is free and voluntary. The 913 registered apiaries represent 3,000 beehives. 

Meanwhile, the NC Department of Agriculture says it registers pesticides and licenses pesticide applicators, but it is not responsible for spraying mosquitoes. The state's Division of Public Health, under the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for detecting, tracking and responding to mosquito-borne diseases.

Leoneda Inge is WUNC’s race and southern culture reporter, the first public radio journalist in the South to hold such a position. She also is co-host of the podcast Tested and host of the special podcast series, PAULI. Leoneda is the recipient of numerous awards from AP, RTDNA and NABJ. She’s been a reporting fellow in Berlin and Tokyo. You can follow her on Twitter @LeonedaInge.
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