Sunday, February 8, 2015

#BeesMatter? Not to pesticide lobby groups.

There has been a bit of confusion caused by a pesticide lobby funded “open letter to Ontarians” published a couple times this week as a full-page ad in all the major newspapers, pretending that they care about bees. The letter is written on behalf of Ontario Farmers and agricultural industries like Croplife.

Yeah right. There is no concern but the bottom line--and that is making a profit.

Catherine Porter has written a great response to this nonsense in today's Toronto Star .

 The Ontario Beekeepers Association has much to say about this deception--and they should know about bees and bee health better than anyone else. Here's an excerpt from their Media Release of Feb 2nd:

Let’s compare what the ad claims to what beekeepers know to be true:
The ad claims: “Honey bee colonies are up almost 60% since 2003, when the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments were introduced.” 

Last winter Ontario beekeepers lost 58% of their hives. The number of honey bee colonies (measured in mid summer) does not reflect the large number of colonies lost each winter, nor does it reflect the 30,000 queens or nearly 20,000 bee packages that beekeepers had to purchase to replace the unusually high number of colonies that failed in the winter and spring. We also want to stress that although honey bee colonies can be managed by beekeepers to sustain their numbers, reports indicate serious declines among wild bees and other pollinators. 
The ad claims:” Honey production has increased by 29% in the past year and Ontario has a successful honey beekeeping industry which earned $30 million in 2014.” 

Fact: Honey production on a per colony basis is actually down by 40% since 2003. We’d also like to point out that ‘earnings’ are not the same as ‘profits’. Every spring Ontario beekeepers work diligently, and at great cost, to recover their winter losses and respond to the high demand for bees for blueberry pollination. Ontario’s beekeepers are producing less honey while incurring significant costs to restore their colony numbers. As well, although Canada is a net exporter of honey, Ontario experiences a honey trade deficit of nearly $15 million due to the lack of safe bee pasture and the inability of pesticide weakened colonies to meet current demand.
Perhaps an even more significant figure is the contribution Ontario’s beekeepers make to agriculture which OMAFRA estimates to be $897 million in Ontario and another $71 million in eastern Canada.
The ad claims: “Health Canada recently released a report that the number of honey bee incidents reported during planting was down 70 per cent.”
Another misleading statement. The Health Canada report cited was an interim report. In fact, Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Farming and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) reported (see link to PA report below) that pesticide poisoning incidents were actually higher in 2014 (345) compared to 2013 (320) and 2012 (240). It’s also important to note that with 58% of colonies dying over the winter there were fewer colonies exposed to pesticides and, as well, due to the late planting season, many colonies had already left the province for pollination services when neonic treated corn and soy were being planted. Read the entire release here: