COVINGTON, La. -- Back in May, more than a half million honeybees died in one location in Tangipahoa Parish.
The bees belonged to two Northshore beekeepers, who kept nine hives in one location. And beekeepers believe they know why - pesticides, and more specifically, mosquito spraying.
"It's a fallacy that all the bees go inside the hive at night," beekeeper Kevin Mixon said Tuesday. Mixon is the President of the Southeast Louisiana Beekeepers.
"Anyone who keeps bees, or even if you have a hive of bees in a tree, the warmer it gets, the more bees remain outside the hive at night to ventilate and to keep the hive cool."
The primary chemical used in mosquito spraying is Resmethrin, a broad spectrum pesticide.
"If you are to destroy a bee hive," Mixon said, "it's the first chemical listed to destroy it."
Nationally, the problem is called Colony Collapse Disorder, and Kevin Mixon and thousands of beekeepers nationwide believe it is caused by broad spectrum pesticide spraying.
"They're an insect, and if you spray something that kills insects," Mixon said, "they will bring it back to the hive, and it can be very slow and insidious, and then the hive will collapse."
According to Mixon, as more people recognize the importance of bees in the food chain, public opinion is gathering on the side of beekeepers.
"I think the public conscience has gone more and more organic over time," Mixon said, "especially over the last several years. And anyone you go up to and you show them the data sheet on the chemicals that are used, they're pretty much appalled."
Mixon recommends all broad spectrum pesticide spraying, like mosquito spraying, stop, for the health and safety of America's bee population.
"If they're living in the wild without human intervention, then the bees are fine," Mixon said. "It's when we expose them to toxins that they start to collapse."
To learn more about the Southeast Louisiana Beekeepers, check out selabees.org.