CBC Bee crisis: Are mites or neonics the real culprit?



"Andre Flys, a beekeeper from Nobleton, just north of Toronto, suggests the pesticide companies have been drawing attention to mites as a smokescreen while continuing to promote the safety and sale of their insecticides to farmers.

He compares the pesticide industry's focus on mites rather than neonicotinoids to the tobacco industry deflecting the health hazards caused by smoking.

"I compare it to the tobacco industry standing over a man who's been a smoker all of his life and has died of lung cancer and we start talking about what a health problem diabetes is," says Flys.  Diabetes, like the Varroa mite, is a symptom of the real cause of death, he says."


"Beekeeper Jim Coneybeare of Fergus, Ont., doesn't disagree with CropLife or Health Canada when it comes to the potential destructive power of mites on bees. He uses a metaphor similar to the jackrabbit comparison suggested by Menzies. 

 "Size-wise," says Coneybeare, "a Varroa can be similar to a vampire cat on a human sucking our blood — if they are not controlled," he says.

But, Coneybeare adds, "when we do experience a pesticide incident and Health Canada and Ontario's Agriculture and Food Ministry send out specialists to check Varroa levels in the hives, they're finding virtually no or very low numbers of Varroas, generally below a treatable level."   

And yet, says Coneybeare, his bees are dying in record numbers."