Recognizing and Reporting Bee Kills

Common symptoms of bee poisoning

  • Excessive numbers of dead bees in front of hives.
  • Lack of the usual numbers of foraging bees (if not weather-related).
  • Bees in front of hives that appear disoriented and are unable to fly.

    Healthy hives may experience daily die-off up to approximately 100 dead bees per day per hive. Higher numbers may be a sign of a bee poisoning or exposure to another stress (e.g., poor hive conditions, inadequate food supply, parasites, disease, etc.).

These symptoms cannot be taken as definite signs of pesticide poisoning. Many chronic management problems such as starvation, winterkill, chilled brood, or disease may result in the same symptoms. Often pesticides may cause these problems in an indirect manner. So it is difficult in many instances to categorically state that bees have been poisoned.

For more information on bee death, including colony collapse and how to report a bee death incident, visit the EPA’s Pollinator Protection website. Also, see Resources and Suggested Reading.

The EPA incident report can be found at http://pi.ace.orst.edu/erep/. Pesticide incidents may be reported by email directly to EPA at: beekill@epa.gov. Some states have incident reporting forms (Washington State example). Contact your state Department of Agriculture or Department of Pesticide Regulation for help. Additionally, Bayer CropScience provides a “Bee Health” hotline at 1-800-334-7577.

Compiled by Wayne Buhler, PhD.

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