Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Ontario's Pollinator Health Action Plan: Looking good.

We have now had the time to look over the recently released, Ontario Pollinator Health Action Plan and we like what we see.

This plan is part of the province's broader Pollinator Health Strategy (PHS), that was launched in November 2014. At the time, the Ontario government highlighted two aspirational targets:

  • To reduce overwinter mortality rates for managed honey bees to 15 per cent by 2020.
  • To achieve an 80 per cent reduction in the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed by 2017.

In 2016, a third aspirational target has been added:

To restore, enhance and protect one million acres of pollinator habitat in Ontario (timelines to be determined by the Habitat Committee).

The Ontario Pollinator Health Action Plan (OPHAP) is designed to help improve the health of all insect pollinators which supports a strong agri-food sector and a healthy environment.

The plan builds in actions, timelines and accountability. It is designed to be adaptive and can be adjusted as new, evidence-based research becomes available.

The plan welcomes the involvement and collaboration of organizations and groups. Our Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project is proud to have been included in the list of stakeholders working for pollinator health!

Other key actions that the plan is committing to in helping pollinators thrive in our province include:

  • Supporting new pollinator health research, collecting more data to better monitor managed honey bee colonies and wild pollinators, and to track neonicotinoid levels in the environment.

  • Launch a special research call ($1 million) to fund new research addressing key knowledge gaps related to pollinator health.

  • Launch a digital awareness campaign to encourage Ontarians to plant pollinator-friendly gardens.

  • Collect data from government monitoring and surveillance programs to establish baselines on the status of managed honey bees, wild pollinators and pesticide residues in the environment.

  • Conduct climate change vulnerability assessments for select wild pollinator species.

  • Compile and promote Best Management Practices (BMPs) that beekeepers should follow when wintering honey bee colonies, both outdoors and indoors, which can help optimize winter survival rates by managing colonies to ensure adequate health, strength and food stores.

  • Continue education and outreach activities for farmers and other interested stakeholders on Best Management Practices  BMPs as they relate to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to support the implementation of the neonicotinoid-treated seed regulation.

  • Continue to work with farmers and other stakeholders through a suite of programs, such as the Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative (GLASI), to support pollinators and habitat restoration and enhancement.

A full list of actions and timelines are included in the plan.

 managed and wild pollinators contribute $992 million annually to Ontario's economy.

Quick Facts

Ontario’s pollinators include wild bumble bees, managed honey bees, solitary bees, butterflies and moths, some beetles and flies.

Ontarians are encouraged to help improve pollinator health by planting pollinator-friendly flowers or supporting one of the many organizations involved in improving pollinator health.

We want to hear about what your organization does to help pollinators. Let us know by emailing: is home to more than 400 bee species, which are the most common pollinators.

On July 1, 2015, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to protect bees and other pollinators through new rules to reduce the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds by 80 per cent by 2017.

Ontario farmers have completed more than 23,900 on-farm Environmental Plan Projects since 2005, including projects like building wind breaks and planting cover crops to boost pollinator health. The province and the federal government have invested $99 million to support these plans.

The ministry wants to hear about what your organization does to help pollinators. Let them know by emailing: