Beekeeper group calls for action after 60% of Ontario bees die over winter
Published Thursday, July 24, 2014 3:33PM EDT
Bees across Canada are dying off at an alarming rate after a harsh winter and small mite infestations.
An Ontario beekeepers' group is concerned by a new report that says nearly six in 10 of the province's bees didn't survive the winter, a rate three times that of other provinces.
The Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists survey found that 58 per cent of Ontario bees died during what was an especially long winter, while other provinces lost on average about 19 per cent of their swarm.
While the report fingers the weather as the main culprit for the bee deaths, hive-minders in Ontario and Quebec also cited acute and chronic pesticide damage or insufficient recovery from pesticide exposure last year as contributing factors.
Ontario Beekeepers' Association president Dan Davidson says bees' exposure in the hive to pollen contaminated by pesticides "almost guarantees they will not survive the winter."
The group is calling on the governing Liberals to fast track a plan looking at permits restricting the number of plant seeds treated with neonicotinoids, a widely used pesticide that some scientists and environmentalists say are killing bees and other insects.
The apiculturists association states Canada's overall winter mortality rate averaged 25 per cent, well above what it says beekeepers deem the "acceptable" loss limit of 15 per cent.