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!”