Bee deaths prompt province to probe possible pesticide link
Published Monday, July 8, 2013 7:02PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 9, 2013 6:41PM EDT
The Ontario government is ready to step in and find a solution for the die off of millions of honeybees across the province.
The Liberal government announced July 9, 2013 it will bring together beekeepers, farmers, and scientists to talk about the declining number bees.
It’s estimated the bee population in Canada has dropped by 35 per cent in the last three years.
Many blame chemicals used to promote the growth of field crops like corn, soybeans and canola. Those chemicals, neonicotinoids, have been banned in the European Union.
The federal government is also considering addressing the issue.
Bee die-offs sign of unfolding ecological tragedy: beekeepers
There's an ecological tragedy happening locally and it has to do with bees.
Millions and millions of bees are dying because of chemicals used to improve crops.
After 25 years of beekeeping in the Elmwood area, David Schuit of Saugeen Country Honey is so comfortable with bees he can work in a cloud of the insects without protection. Most of the bees in this yard look busy collecting nectar but Schuit doesn't like what he sees here.
He says these bees look like they have been poisoned
“I see bees that are dying,” he says. “I was here this morning and now I come back and even more bees are dying because they are flying out more now. We had some rain last night so the bees are out sucking up water in the fields. I believe they are getting tainted by.”
Schuit has seen this before. He has lost 600 hives or more than 30 million bees since last year. Tests by Health Canada found traces of neonicotinoid pesticides in the dead bees here.
Neonicotinoid pesticides are used to protect corn, soybean and canola seeds from insects. They are extremely toxic to bees even in tiny amounts but were approved for use in Canada in 2004.
Health Canada continues to monitor the insecticide’s impact on bees.
So far this season there have been 140 documented cases where bee colonies have suffered acute poisoning and that number is expected to grow because bee keepers are still seeing their bees die or disappear.
Richard Elzby normally keeps about 30 colonies just outside of Meaford but 10 of those died over the winter. Elzby replaced those bees last week only to watch the colonies collapse again this week. The bees are apparently dying while out pollinating.
“I don't know where the bees have gone,” Elzby says. “There are a hundred or two hundred bees in my hives, and when I open to check them I get the shock of my life. Boxes that should have 10,000 or upwards of 30,000 or 40,000 (have) less than one tenth.”
Schuit says the destruction of honey bees is only an indication of what is happening to all other insects and time is quickly running out for Health Canada to take substantial action to protect bees.
“To me it's the calm before the storm,” he says. “We haven't seen all the repercussions of this chemical. Wake up Canada.”
Because of what's happening to bees this summer, the Ontario Bee Keepers’ Association is calling on Health Canada to suspend the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments for the 2014 planting season.