Company disputes claim that herbicides killed bees

LANDRUM, S.C. (WSPA-TV) - An Upstate beekeeper questions whether herbicides sprayed near his property killed some of his bees.

The company behind the spraying says the chemical used could not have killed the bees, because it's an extensive process to make sure the chemicals sprayed along roads are as safe as possible.

Beekeeping is more than business for Hugh "Buddy" Williams.

"It's a hobby and a sport and I enjoy doing it," he said.

What he didn't enjoy was when a Department of Transportation contractor drove by his property in Landrum last Tuesday, spraying herbicides.

"There was fog spray everywhere," said Williams. "The trucks come up the road in the am and came back in the afternoon."

He says he thinks the spraying killed some of his bees because they were fine after being brought in from Georgia on Monday.

"[They were] inspected by the state of Georgia and the state of South Carolina," said Williams.

NaturChem is a Lexington-based company contracted with the SCDOT (S.C. Department of Transportation).

"The technical term is chemical limbing," said NaturChem Senior vice President Rom Kellis.

Kellis says crews were spraying the chemical Triclopyr using a product called Garlon 4 Ultra.

"It's the safest...Least toxic formulation of Triclopyr," Kellis said. He says EPA studies make him sure the bees were not killed by their diluted version of the herbicide. "[Tested] the highest possible rate of Triclopyr that could be put on a bee - meaning cover the entire bee – and they did the worst case scenario and it had no effect on the bee whatsoever."

The Department of Pesticide Regulation at Clemson University also investigated the incident and found no violations of misuse of chemical application or labeling issues during their initial investigation.

Williams says for the sake of his bees, and his own health, he shouldn't be subjected to chemicals on his property.

"The state owns from the center line of that road 30 feet this way," Williams said. "From here back this way - from hell to heaven - is mine."

Kellis suggests putting up signs telling workers to not spray chemicals near your property. Williams says he is now in the process of doing that.

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