Beekeepers Need Immediate Action on Pesticides

Beekeepers Need Immediate Action on Pesticides

Op-Ed published in The Hill Times, December 13, 2018

By Stéphane Leclerc and André Flys

 Stéphane Leclerc is the président of the Fédération des apiculteurs du Québec. 

André Flys is President of the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association.


We can no longer ignore the harmful effects of pesticide exposure on pollinator health. 

Last year, beekeepers in Ontario and Québec suffered record overwinter colony losses: 45.7 per cent in Ontario and 30.3 per cent in Québec. These colony losses far surpass the 20 per cent threshold beekeepers considered sustainable. 

Beekeepers in Ontario and Québec agree that pesticide exposure continues to be the major contributor to overwinter mortality, queen losses, low honey yields and colony collapse in the fall. In the face of these losses beekeepers struggle to stay in business when confronting the additional costs of replacing dead or weakened colonies and failing queens. 

In particular, the overuse of neonicotinoid insecticides on corn, soy and winter wheat is taking a major toll. Most of Canada’s neonic-treated soy and corn seeds are grown in Ontario and Québec. In Ontario at least 75 per cent of corn and 50 per cent of soy seeds planted in the province are treated with neonics, and the situation is similar in Québec. 

So why aren’t beekeepers cheering on the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s (PMRA) proposals to phase-out the major uses of neonics in Canada? 

Because while a ban on neonics will help beekeepers recover, PMRA proposes a three to five-year phase-out period, allowing the use of harmful neonics to continue until at least 2022-2023, maybe longer. 

It’s well passed time for Canada to nix neonics and get serious about sustainable food production.

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