CBC: Cause of bee deaths has farmers, beekeepers at odds

A arm of the federal government says it has determined pesticides and insecticides are having impacts on bees and other pollinators.

Beekeepers are applauding the news while grain farmers have serious concerns.

Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency says current agricultural practices related to the use of neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed are to blame.

The agency has published a notice of intent that outlines measures to mitigate risks to pollinators actions and provides interested parties, including those beekeepers and farmers an opportunity to comment.

Corn and soybean farmer Henry Denotter is one of those with something to say. He wants the regulatory agency in charge to do more research.

"We're looking for a sound scientific answer. We think that we can make it work together," he said. "We don't want to kill the bees. But we don't want to go without the insecticide totally either. 

"There are a lot of things happening out there. Objectivity is what we're looking for."

Denotter said eliminating the insecticides will affect the crop's quality and yield.

Health Canada previously reported that 70 per cent of the dead bees tested from hives across Ontario and Quebec had insecticide residue inside.

According to the Association of Professional Apiculturists, nearly every province experienced higher honey bee losses during the 2012-2013 winter compared to the one prior.

The only exceptions were British Columbia and Nova Scotia, according to the report, which is based on surveys of beekeepers across the country.

Ontario Beekeeper Tom Congdon said the insecticide has got to go.

"We really need this product taken off the market.  It's just so damaging to the environment and beneficial insects that there's no best management practices that really are going to help the bees in the long run," he said. "It's just too toxic."

Congdon owns Sun Parlour Honey, an operation with 2,000 bee colonies.

"We've got a long road to cover here yet, but we're certainly happy that PMRA is looking at the evidence that we've provided so far," he said.