Harmless bees close two fields

The buzz around town is that two elementary school playfields were cordoned off while Oak Harbor School District officials dealt with a bee problem.

Students couldn’t access the field at Olympic View Elementary School and part of the field at Oak Harbor Elementary School. They were closed because miner bees are busy laying eggs in the fields.

Bruce Worley, school district operations director, said staff discussed the best way to deal with the bees.

Miner bees aren’t considered a danger to people and haven’t been known to induce acute allergic reactions. The bees are non-aggressive, cannot sting and only bite if handled roughly.

Staff originally sealed off the fields because they originally didn’t know what type of bees were infesting the fields, district spokesperson Joe Hunt said.

Hunt said even harmless bees can stir up fears and emotions in children and the perception can be just as powerful as being stung.

However, both fields were re-opened Friday.

In deciding how to deal with the bees, staff considered several options.

Worley said if staff sprays the field with insecticide, then the fields would remain closed for 90 days while the chemicals degrade. That would effectively close the field for most of the summer — a popular time of the year where the residents use the fields.

But he said the school district has adopted an integrated pest management plan saying the district has to look at environmentally friendly alternatives before spraying.

Alternatives include tilling and reconditioning the fields or flooding the fields. However, those options are costly.

Worley said staff may simply leave the bees alone. Miner bees make a hole in the ground to lay their eggs. Once finished the bees move and the eggs hatch next year.

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