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Dead bees found in lot

WILSONVILLE, Ore. – Thousands of dead and dying bees have been found in the parking lot of a shopping center in Wilsonville, Ore., southwest of Portland. Oregon officials say their investigation indicates blooming trees in the lot were recently sprayed with an insecticide known to be toxic to bees.

Rich Hatfield, a biologist with the Portland-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation estimates at least 25,000 bumble bees have been killed. Shoppers called Hatfield on Monday to report the carnage, the Xerces Society said in a statement. The bees were clustered under dozens of linden trees.

Dan Hilburn, plant programs director at the state Agriculture Department, visited the parking lot Wednesday. He confirmed “thousands of dead bees.”

“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Hilburn said.

A primary focus of the Agriculture Department’s preliminary investigation is a pesticide called Safari that apparently was applied in the area last Saturday to control aphids, said Dale Mitchell, program manager in the Agriculture Department’s pesticide compliance and enforcement section.

Safari is part of a family of pesticides called neonicotinoids that are considered acutely toxic to pollinators.