The weather conditions are finally ideal for wild flowers to bloom and honey bees to begin pollinating. However, bee keepers have already noticed some of their colonies didn’t survive the severe winter.
“Including the four I lost going into the winter, I lost 35 per cent,” says Meaford bee keeper Richard Elzby. “The remaining 65 per cent are robust.”
The province recently announced that it would provide financial help for bee keepers who lost more than 40 per cent of the colonies this year with a one-time payment of $105 per colony.
Bee keepers across the province have suffered major losses over the past two and the harsh winter is not the biggest threat-pesticides are. There are already signs that crop protection chemicals are going to cause problems for bees again this summer.
The planting season hasn't even started and bee keeper David Shuit doesn't like what he sees. These bees were dying after foraging today. He blames neonicotinoids for contaminating the soil, water and now the wild flowers at the edge of fields.
“Every year the residue is building up in the soil and when the native flowers are drawing up water they are drawing up neonicotinoids with it and it affects the nervous systems of the bees,” says Shuit.
Neonicotinoids are used to protect corn, soy and potatoes from insects. Neonicotinoids are extremely toxic to pollinators even in tiny amounts; the chemicals are water soluble and persist in soils year to year.
Health Canada has issued new guidelines for use of neonicotinoids and is currently re-evaluating their use.
The provinces one time finically assistance will be available to bee keepers for loses over the summer up until October 31st.