Bees are in crisis!
The use of neonicotinoid pesticides are killing bees at an alarming rate. Neonicotinoids are a fairly new class of insecticides that affect the central nervous system of insects. They are currently being sprayed on a wide variety of agricultural crops in North America. Nearly 100% of corn seed and roughly 60% of soybean seed are treated with neonicotinoids. They have been banned by the European Union.
By compromising their immune and central nervous systems, neonicotinoids make bees more vulnerable to viruses, reduces their navigation skills and affects their capacity to forage and communicate forage opportunities to other bees. According to the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists, the average loss of honey bee colonies over the winter in Canada was 25% in 2013-2014. In Ontario, the average loss was 58%.
So, what happens if bees are killed off? Bees pollinate about one third of all agriculture we eat. That would mean no more apples, pumpkins, berries, cucumbers, almonds…and the list goes on. And forget about the flowers in your garden. A blow to the bee population would mean a huge blow to our ecosystem.
There is good news! The Ontario Government just announced the release of the Pollinator Health Action Plan, which sets ambitious targets for improving bee health. These targets include:
* 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
The government has released a discussion paper on pollinator health (http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/pollinator/discuss-paper.pdf). Over the next 60 days, they will be taking comments from industry, researchers, organizations and individuals. You can submit your comments to PollinatorHealth@Ontario.ca.
If approved, new rules on the use of neonicotinoids will be in place by July 1, 2015, in time for the 2016 agricultural planting season.
For more information, you can consult: