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Missing Bees CCD Poster

Yesterday it was announced that Ontario will begin phasing out the use of Neonicotinoid (neonics) in farm settings in the province. This decision in the first of its kind in North America and is part of Ontario’s plan to ban neonics.

Under the new law, which takes effect July 1:

  • Starting in the 2016 season, farmers may only use neonic treated seeds on 50% of their corn and soybean fields.
  • In order to plant more than 50%, farmers must prove to the government that they have a pest problem and take a pest-management course.
  • In 2016, all farmers wanting to buy neonic-treated seeds will need to take the course and prove the existence of a pest problem.
  • Starting in August, all seed sellers must apply for new licensing to sell neonic-treated seeds and collect documentation from farmers when selling the seeds in the future.

The province of Ontario hopes to reduce the use of Neonicotinoid laden crops by 80% in 2017.

For more information, visit these news stories at Global News and CTV News.

The Ontario Beekeepers’ Association has released their findings after a survey was sent out for beekeepers in Ontario. You can download the full PDF or if you want to cut to the chase, here are some of the highlights and comparisons with last year:

  • 46.1% of respondents reported losses of 25% or less (compared to 28.4% in 2014).
  • 29.5% of respondents reported losses of 15% or less.
  • 21.6% of respondents reported more than 75% losses (compared to 25.1% in 2014).
  • 34.6% said bees doing ‘better’ or ‘much better’ than 2014.
  • 28.2% said bees doing ‘worse’ or ‘much worse’ than 2014.
  • Top three suspected causes of colony loss: colonies too small, normal winter losses, pesticides.
  • Least three causes suspected: overload of varroa, problem with queen, insufficient stores.
  • ‘Some’ or ‘most’ bee colonies of 70.5% of respondents were located within 3 km of corn or soy crops.

Here’s a great little video that I stumbled upon today. Let’s ask a Monsanto lobbyist if Glyphosate is safe to drink. He sure talks the talk, but find out whether he can walk the walk:

credit to borianag (Flickr) Licensed under Creative Commons license.

I like to envision the bees in my hives embracing and high-fiving each other following the news from the Government of Ontario yesterday. The province is committed to reducing neonicotinoid usage by 80% by the year 2017 and aim to reduce winter honeybee mortality rates to 15% by 2020!

In a news release put out yesterday by the Government of Ontario, three points are clearly outlined. The province’s approach will help keep crops healthy and improve the environment by:

  • Working towards a goal of 80 per cent reduction in the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed by 2017
  • Reducing the over-winter honeybee mortality rate to 15 per cent by 2020
  • Establishing a comprehensive Pollinator Health Action Plan

To put this into perspective, the honeybee mortality rate over the 2013-2014 winter was 58%. We (collectively) lost more than half of Ontario’s honeybees last winter. Seeing that number reduced to 15% in the next 5 years would be astounding. Tibor Szabo, President of the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association, has this to say: “The OBA appreciates the government’s recognition that the prophylactic use of neonicotinoid-coated seed on Ontario’s corn and soy crops is unwarranted and unacceptable.

The news of this neonicotinoid reduction is great news for all beekeepers, but it’s also excellent news for anyone who eats food. I.e. everyone. Reducing neonics in our food means less systemic pesticide usage in foods that we all consume.

While it would be nice to see neonicotinoids banned completely, this is definitely a step in the right direction. I speak on behalf of all pollinators everywhere when I say: “Hip hip hooray!”

Dan Davidson – president of the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association – released a letter today informing beekeepers that the Province of Ontario has decided to give money to beekeepers who suffer losses this year. The letter says:

Dear Beekeeper,

On Tuesday afternoon, OBA board members were informed at a meeting with senior OMAF officials that the Province has developed a one-time compensation package for beekeepers experiencing higher than normal mortality rates. Compensation includes $105 per hive to beekeepers with more than ten hives who experience hive mortality of over 40% of their colonies between Jan. 1st and October 31, 2014. OBA has been advocating for over a year for beekeeper compensation related to extraordinary bee deaths. The amount per hive provided under this program is significantly less than we were proposing; however, we feel it is a good first step and shows awareness of the hardships many Ontario beekeepers are experiencing. We are pleased, as well, that losses will include those occurring over the summer and early fall, and not just winter. This is significant. Ontario is the first province to compensate beekeepers for losses likely caused by pesticides as well as other causes. We will be getting back to everyone with further information as it becomes available.

OBA is preparing a press release for later today. Watch the website and future newsletters for new developments.

All the best,
Dan
Dan Davidson, President

This is great news for anyone that has lost a significant portion of their colonies this past winter and heading into the rest of the year. Unfortunately, I don’t qualify myself, because I have fewer than 10 hives. Still, I’m sure this will come as a great help to many beekeepers.

Forms to apply for this compensation will be available by mid-May, 2014.