Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 7:23 EDT

Bee health concerns require broader perspectives

October 29, 2013

OTTAWA, Oct. 29, 2013 /CNW/ – A holistic view of the challenges facing
bee populations in a region of southern Ontario is required to protect
honey bees.

Despite wide-spread international agreement that bee health is impacted
by a combination of factors, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency
(PMRA) continues to focus exclusively on the role of neonicotinoid
pesticides in one specific Canadian region. Canada’s plant science
industry is calling on the Canadian government to broaden its
examination of the issue to ensure other problems facing pollinators -
and the experience of beekeepers in other parts of the country – are
not overlooked as solutions to this important, but complex, situation
are sought.

For example, around the world beekeepers identify the Varroa mite as the
primary threat to honeybee health. Additionally, a number of the hive
health challenges described in the PMRA interim report are consistent
with symptoms of known honey bee diseases.

Several relevant facts frequently disregarded in the on-going
investigation into what has harmed bees in southern Ontario and parts
of Quebec, include:

        --  The vast majority of Canada's approximately 7,600 beekeepers
            have not reported short or long-term effects on their bees as a
            result of neonicotinoids.
        --  Since the early 2000s, when neonicotinoids were first
            introduced, the number of honey bees has increased to
            near-record levels. In 2012 over 700,000 honey bee colonies
            were reported Canada-wide, up from 600,000 in 2000. This trend
            is mirrored in both Quebec and Ontario.
        --  In Western Canada, close to 20 million acres of canola, the
            majority of which is treated with a neonicotinoid, is planted
            and bee health remains strong. And canola, unlike corn, is a
            crop that bees feed heavily on. Over 70 per cent of Canada's
            bee colonies reside in this region.
        --  Globally, there are regions that use no neonicotinoids
            experiencing major bee losses while other regions that make
            widespread use of these tools have healthy, thriving bee
            populations. For example, in Australia where farmers rely on
            neonicotinoids, bee populations are flourishing.

Following 2012 reports of incidents, the plant science industry took
steps to provide additional protection for bees from exposure to
pesticides. These steps include:

        --  Developing a comprehensive set of best management practices for
            planting insecticide-treated corn during the handling,
            pre-planting and planting phases of seeding;
        --  Working with regulators to develop new language for treated
            seed bags to better inform growers about potential impacts of
            seed dust on pollinators;
        --  Encouraging greater collaboration and communication between
            growers and beekeepers; and
        --  Introducing a new fluency agent to reduce dust associated with
            seed planting.

Research into the various challenges threatening pollinator health is
absolutely necessary and Canada’s plant science industry is committed
to continuing to initiate and support research on this important topic;
however, we expect government will ensure their work is broad enough to
ensure that all potential threats to honey bees are fairly and
thoroughly examined and based on scientific, evidence-based data.

SOURCE CropLife Canada

Source: PR Newswire