Richard Elzby got suited in protective gear Monday to begin harvesting honey in his bee yards west of Meaford. 

He wasn't sure what expect because the bees have had a difficult year. Many of his hives died last winter, in the spring and even over the summer months when colonies should be growing larger and stronger.

He blames the death of his bees on neonicotinoids and reported the losses to federal and provincial authorities.

“I reported 30 per cent loss to the PMRA and OMAFRA in the spring,” he says. “I' m up to 40-some per cent. I didn't calculate, I just lost two more hives.

“I just found them on Tuesday both, dead; I imagine they died of poisoning.”

Neonics are used to protect corn and soybean seeds from insects and the chemicals are extremely toxic to bees.

Some bee yards around our region did better than others this summer but beekeepers already know this year’s crop is a fraction of what it should be, because little to no honey was harvested over the summer months and many of the boxes still haven't been filled.

Peter Dickey has begun extracting honey from some of the comb gathered in the Innisfil area. As the president of the Huronia Beekeepers’ Association, he estimates the local honey crop is down more than 40 per cent. Dickey says fewer bees means less honey and he expects the price to rise along with other foods that require pollination by bees

“I think it’s a major sight of trouble, you know 30 per cent of our food depends on pollination, so lack of pollination is going to reduce the amount of good fruit and vegetables we enjoy to eat,” he says. “I think we have to wake up and find a solution to this very, very quickly.”

Beekeepers document their production and report to the Ministry of Agriculture. Provincial numbers should be available later this year.

Crop insurance does not cover losses caused by pesticide poisoning.