State suspends pesticide operator's license after bee deaths

EUGENE, Ore. - The Oregon Department of Agriculture suspended the license of a commercial pesticide operator after an incident left an estimated 1,000 bees dead at a north Eugene apartment complex this week.

The action taken against Glass Tree Care and Spray Service comes as the state agriculture department continues to investigate violation of the Oregon Pesticide Control Law, the agency said.

The company can seek reinstatement of its license, the state said.

Residents of the apartment complex called the KVAL Tipline to report the bee deaths. The state learned of the bee deaths from a story posted on

The investigation found that an employee of the company applied a pesticide product containing the active ingredient imidacloprid on the grounds of the apartment complex earlier this week.

The employee applied the product to 17 linden trees, the same tree species involved in bee death incidents last year in Oregon.

The trees in the Eugene incident were in full bloom and attracting bees, the state said.

Most of the pollinators impacted by the pesticide application were bumblebees.

However, some honeybees were also found dead and dying following the application.

Last year, based on high-profile incidents of bee deaths, Oregon adopted a required label statement on pesticide products containing imidacloprid and dinontefuran prohibiting the application of these products on linden trees and other Tilia species.

For 2014, labels on these products distributed into Oregon must state the restriction. Products with the old label are still out there and may be used, but not when plants are in bloom, the agency said.

Applicators using products with the older label are urged to follow the restrictions on the newly revised products.

The product used this week in Eugene had an older label, which alerts the user that the product is "highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment or residues."

The department said the pesticide applicator should have been aware of pollinator activity and should not have used the product based on the label statement.

As a condition of license reinstatement, Glass Tree Care and Spray Service must:

  • have its applicator in this case retake and pass examinations required for a commercial pesticide applicator;
  • cooperate with ODA, to the department's satisfaction, in preventing or mitigating further harm from incident;
  • provide to ODA a written plan describing how it will set in place policies or protocols to prevent recurrences of incidents involving pesticide applications to plants in bloom.

The state said will continue its investigation and will pursue additional enforcement action. Glass Tree Care and Spray Service has been cooperative throughout the investigation, the state said.

The department of agriculture, in cooperation with Oregon State University, is monitoring the apartment complex site and will take appropriate steps as needed to minimize further impacts on pollinators.

The ag department also contacted all pesticide license holders in the state reminding them of restrictions in the use of the specific pesticide active ingredients, imidacloprid and dinotefuran.

Additional information has also been placed on the Oregon Department Agriculture website regarding use of these products.