Bee Health Working Group Announced

By Julianna van Adrichem, July 18

Ontario is bringing together a group of experts to provide advice on how to prevent bee mortalities.

According to a press release from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food from July 9, 2013, “the Bee Health Working Group will be comprised of beekeepers, farmers, agri-business representatives, scientists, and staff from both federal and provincial government agencies. Drawing on a broad range of expertise, the working group will provide recommendations on how to mitigate the potential risk to honey bees from exposure to neonicotinoid — a pesticide used to treat corn and soybean seed. The working group will meet for the first time this month and provide its recommendations by spring 2014.”

 Kathleen Wynne, the Premier and Minister of Agriculture and Food commented: “The creation of this working group is a vital step in our efforts to protect the environment and Ontario’s agri-food sector. We look forward to working together to find solutions that will support a thriving, healthy bee population that will in turn support a strong, successful agri-food sector.”

 The development of this working group is following reports of millions of bee mortalities throughout more than 230 Ontario bee yard locations. Over the past decade populations of honey bees and other pollinators have been in decline worldwide (1). There is mounting scientific evidence that supports the observations that neonicotinoids are connected with bee colony collapse (2; 3; 4;5). In the European Union there is now a two-year moratorium on three types of Neonicotinoids (10). Furthermore, the recent report provided by the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) confirms the connection between the use of neonicotinoids and damage to Ontario’s beekeeping industry.

Ontario is extremely sensitive to the health of pollinators. For instance, Ontario’s commercial fruit production with a farm gate value of over $225 million, is an important economic driver and source of jobs at both the farm, processing and distribution centres (OBA, 2013).

 The Ontario Beekeepers’ Association (OBA) believes that continued use of these pesticides poses an unacceptable likelihood of serious, imminent harm that is causing or will cause:

  • Significant reduction in populations of domestic honey bees, bumble bees or native pollinators.
  • Significant decreases in honey production.
  • Serious effects on other agricultural systems as a result of decreases in pollination services.
  • A reduction in pollination of wild plants in a way that may alter ecosystems.
  • The loss or decimation of a viable commercial beekeeping industry in Ontario

Please click here for the OBA’s Official Public Position on neonicotinoid bee poisoning. The OBA has started a petition regarding Neonicotinoids as well.

Neonicotinoids are persistent pesticides, staying in the environment for up to 10 years, posing continuous environmental risks. Following runoff, they make their way into environments far from farmer’s fields and into groundwater. As systemic chemicals, they migrate throughout the entire plant to the flowers and fruit of the plant, potentially causing chronic low dose toxicity to all pollinators and wildlife when consumed. The class of pesticides has been found to be lethal to birds as well as to the aquatic systems at very low doses (6).

 Studies and Reports:

1.European Parliament. (2012) Existing Scientific Evidence of the Effects of Neonicotinoid Pesticides on Bees. .

2. Tappara, A. Marton,D. Gioria, C. Zanella, A. Solda, L. Marzaro, M. Vivan, L. Girolami, V. (2012)“Assessment of the environmental exposure of honeybees to particulate matter containing neonicotinoid insecticides coming from corn coated seeds”

3. Krupke, C.H. Hunt, G.J. Eitzer, B.D. Andino, G. Given, K (2012) “Multiple routes of pesticide exposure for honey bees living near agricultural fields”

4. Toshiro Yamada Kazuko Yamada Naoko Wada “Influence of Dinotefuran and Clothianidin on a Bee Colony. Graduate School of Natural Science & Technology, Kanazawa (Japan) University

5. Krystyna Pohorecka, Piotre Skubida, et al. (2012)”Residues of neonicotinoid insecticides in bee collected plant materials from oilseed rape crops and their effect on bee colonies” Journal of Applied Science Vol. 5 no 2.

6. The Impact of the Nation’s Most Widely Used Insecticides on Birds. American Bird Conservancy, March 2013


In the Press:

7. Bees dying by the millions. Jon Radojkovic,, June 19, 2013.

8.  Ontario bee farmer hoping for pesticide ban to end die-off. Angela Mulholland,, July 5, 2013.

9  Ontario to examine pesticides as possible cause of bee deaths.  Alex Ballingall,, July 9, 2013.

10.  European Union Protects Bees but U.S. Continues to Allow Neonicotinoid Pesticides. A press release from Natural Resources Defense Council, Mother Earth News, July 16, 2013.



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