Russian authorities are investigating the mass deaths of hundreds of thousands of bees in Siberia following similar reports of mass bee deaths in other parts of the country in recent months, Newsweek reports.
The Belovsky district of Kemerovo Oblast, also known as Kuzbass, in southwestern Siberia reported 145 bee colonies died recently, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in that region, as did the Guryevsky and Krapivinsky districts in Kuzbass. Similar mass bee deaths have been reported in Russia’s Altai Territory and the Novosibirsk Oblast, both of which border Kuzbass.
The region’s Ministry of Agriculture, along with experts from “specialized organizations and departments,” will investigate to determine the cause, and if pesticides or weed-killing chemicals could be responsible.
“All the circumstances of the incident are being clarified: the date and time of the chemical treatment of the fields, the registration of beekeepers, the volume of deaths of bees,” a spokesperson for the ministry told the Russian news agency Interfax, according to Newsweek.
Local beekeepers in the Tula region, which is located about 120 miles south of Moscow, blame fipronil, a pesticide that has been banned in the European Union but still legal in Russia, and used by a company on the local rapeseed fields.
“The pesticides banned in Europe have all been dumped here in Russia and farmers use them in their fields because it is cheap,” said Viktor Morozov, a beekeeper from Bobrovka, a village in the Tula region. “As a result, bees are dying and people are being poisoned. Of course, somebody has to take responsibility for this. But I don’t know if someone will.”