(Newser) – The plan was to kill droves of mosquitoes to combat West Nile and Zika in South Carolina. An unexpected result: millions of honeybees ended up dead, too. Officials in Dorchester County who approved Sunday's aerial spraying of an insecticide have apologized after beekeepers lost entire hives and their livelihoods. Juanita Stanley, who owns a bee farm in Summerville, says she lost 2.5 million bees in 46 hives as planes overhead rained down Naled, toxic to both bees and mosquitoes. Stanley tells the Charleston Post and Courier the farm "looks like it's been nuked." It's "like visiting a cemetery," a woman says of Stanley's farm on Facebook, per the Washington Post.
Not only was Sunday's fumigation the county's first aerial spray, it also occurred on a hot day—when bees usually cool down outside hives—and in the morning, rather than at night when bees tend to keep to their hives. Officials say the event was well publicized, but beekeepers say they had no idea so they weren't able to cover hives in advance. "Had I known, I would have been camping on the steps doing whatever I had to do screaming, 'No you can't do this,'" Stanley tells WCSC. A county administrator says he's "not pleased that so many bees were killed." Meanwhile, the county says it will contact beekeepers directly about all future spraying.