Media responses

Pesticides a scapegoat, the Expositor, August 5, 2015

August 5, 2015

Re: Beekeepers say survey backs war on pesticide, July 22 2015

Contrary to what the president of the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association (OBA) said in the Expositor recently, overwintering loss numbers for bees in Canada are better than average and – according to beekeepers themselves, a whole host of factors other than pesticides are to blame for those losses that did happen.

As in the past, the OBA continues to ignore the facts that don’t support their position, including increasing colony numbers, decreasing incident numbers, and consistent honey production values.

But the truth is that the recent results from the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists (CAPA) survey indicate that bee health in Canada is robust. The data very clearly indicates that the top reasons for winter bee losses across the country are a result of beekeeper management issues.

Ontario was the sole province to report significantly higher than average overwinter losses – despite widespread use of neonics in many provinces. Szabo’s rationale that it must be because of neonics is ludicrous since many other provinces have much higher usage and many more bee colonies.

Beekeepers themselves blame starvation as the number one cause of poor overwintering, with weak hives in the fall cited as the second most likely reason  – both of these stressors are a result of hive management. Contrary to what Szabo says, beekeepers were very clearly given the option of identifying pesticides as a cause for their losses and yet they determined other factors had, in fact, been greater contributing factors.

It’s time for those Ontario beekeepers who want to take a holistic look at the situation to be heard. There is much that can be learned from beekeepers in other parts of the country and many here in Ontario who have made enormous progress in creating strong and vibrant colonies that are robust enough to survive, with proper care, even the harshness of Canadian winters.

Pointing the finger at a convenient scapegoat will not help Ontario beekeepers improve the health of their hives.

The plant science industry looks forward to continuing to work with beekeepers and other stakeholders to ensure the success of the entire agricultural industry.

Pierre Petelle
Vice-president of chemistry, CropLife Canada