The Great Bumble Bee Count

Friends of the Earth Canada is an environmental group asking for your help in protecting native and wild bees. Here is what they say:

"Through our citizen science project in collaboration with researchers at Bumble Bee Watch, 'The Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count,' we ask citizens and residents to spot and take pictures of bumblebees, then upload them online so scientists can better track their distribution.

It'll be possible to upload photos to The Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count until August 15.

We have online resources available including a tutorial you can download and use to explain how important this campaign can be in protecting bumble bees. More information can be found at our website."

Pollination Health Action Plan Survey: Have your say.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) invites you to share your thoughts and recommendations on their draft Pollinator Health Action Plan and help them improve pollinator health in the province.

To ensure the health of our pollinators, strengthen their populations and protect our agricultural sector, they have drafted a Pollinator Health Action Plan and want your input on:
what priorities they should focus on to improve pollinator health
what steps you would take to improve pollinator health.

You can read the draft action plan here.

Your feedback will be considered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs when they report back to the public with a final Action Plan in spring/summer of 2016.

Click here to go to the survey.

Close date for comments is March 7, 2016


The recent decline in the Monarch population has been attributed to a number of reasons, chief amongst these being use of neonicotinoids and the expansion of Roundup resistant crops that are destroying milkweed, the host plant for Monarch caterpillars.

The use of neonicotinoids, a class of relatively new insecticides, has gained popularity in the last two decades. This is due to their selective toxicity targeting insects rather than humans, livestock or birds. Neonicotinoids control many insect pests such as sap feeding insects and root feeding grubs on over 140 different crop varieties. These insecticides are used as seed treatments or sprayed directly onto crop foliage. They are systemic pesticides, which means that they are taken up by the roots and transported to all parts of the plant including the stem, leaves, flowers, pollen, and nectar. Seed treatments protect the seed from within by making the young plants resistant to soil borne insects as well as the foliar pests. Neonicotinoids can persist in the soil for many years after the application.

Neonicotinoids affect the insects’ central nervous system, causing paralysis and death. The powerful insecticide is known to reduce the navigation skills of bees, impacting their ability to feed and to communicate with other bees in the colony. A recent study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found a link between two widely used neonicotinoids and Colony Collapse Disorder. Low doses of Imidacloprid and Clothianidin affected the neurological functions and caused the adult bees to abandon their hives in the winter and die.

The systemic nature of neonicoinoids, their persistence in the environment over a long duration, and their potency at low doses threaten not just the survival of bees but also our own food security. Thus on the basis of the recommendations of European Environmental Agency, the European Union has placed a two year ban on the use of three neonicotinoids - clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam.

Another major cause of the dramatic decline of Monarch butterfly populations can be attributed to genetically modified Roundup ready crops. Roundup ready crops have been taking over the landscape of the Midwest US and are designed to be resistant to heavy doses of this herbicide. An application of Roundup kills all other competing plants including milkweed which grows commonly along the edges and in adjoining ditches. Current Roundup Ready crops include soy, corn, canola, alfalfa, cotton, sorghum with wheat under development.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota estimated that the amount of milkweed declined by about 81% since the use of Roundup ready crops with a resulting 80% decline in Monarch egg production as Monarch caterpillars are dependent on milkweed as a host plant.
To avoid the use of neonicotinoids always ask where you purchase your plants and make sure that the seed stock has not been treated with any chemicals – especially neonicotinoids!