Harrison, Ark. beekeeper says hives damaged by weed spraying along highway

HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) – A beekeeper in Harrison, Arkansas, believes chemicals sprayed on weeds along the highway killed his bees.

Roger Bates, a lifelong beekeeper, lives along U.S. Highway 62. He says he’s struggled with bees dying since 2020 and has lost thousands of bees. He reached out to the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) several times, asking they don’t spray in front of his property.

“I honestly will say that my friend across the road lost three hives last year due to the highway department spraying,” said Bates. “They killed four of my hives last year spraying, and they won’t own up to it. But I’m not going quit raising by bees.”

Bates says the price of bees has increased tremendously, and it will take him several years to replace the five hives he lost.

“These other people, who I will not name names, they sprayed and killed 5 of my hives again, so I just want the poison to quit getting sprayed,” said Bates. “To me, I’m 73 and retired, and to me, the bees are kinda like my children, and I don’t wanna be without them.”

The ARDOT District 9 Engineer Steve Lawrence says records from Boone County supervisors show it has not sprayed along the portion of U.S. 62 where Bates lives anytime within the last month.

“As far as when people spray and they affect your property, I mean, I’m a property owner, and I wouldn’t like them spraying on my property without my knowing about it either,” said Lawrence. “I’ve done some checking this morning with our supervisors that are in charge of Boone County. As far as that section of U.S. 62, we have not done any spraying in the last month.”

Lawrence says although the road department hasn’t sprayed recently, other utility companies also spray along their easements, which ARDOT provides permits. He says there haven’t been any steps taken in the area recently.

“In this situation, we’ve not issued any permits for utilities to spray recently,” said Lawrence. “When you look at this on Highway 62, it appears somebody has sprayed in part along our right-of-way and beyond that. Now, what happens beyond our right-of-way? We have no power over that.”

ARDOT says the company that would most commonly spray in that area is Entergy Arkansas, which has several customers along the highway. Entergy Arkansas confirmed contracted teams had been spraying in the Harrison area beginning on July 25. It provided the following statement:

Downed trees, limbs, and other vegetation are the number one cause of all power outages (average of years 2017-2021) to our customers. Entergy Arkansas engages in pruning and removal of trees along with other vegetation management to prevent damage to power lines, improve electrical reliability and ensure that work crews can safely access equipment in order to make any necessary repairs.

Entergy’s vegetation crews are trained on ISA Utility Pruning Best Management Practices and utilize glyphosate-based herbicides, which are subject to rigorous testing to ensure their safety for people and animals and oversight by federal regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, vegetation crews use application methods that are designed to minimize the drift of herbicides outside of Entergy’s right-of-way. Finally, Entergy’s vegetation management program is subject to the oversight of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.

We encourage customers to contact our customer service department with any questions or concerns at 1-800-ENTERGY or through our website, www.EntergyArkansas.com.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

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