G&M: "Bees. Poisoned" Letter to editor: Tibor Szabo

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Bees. Poisoned

Re Good News: There Is No Honeybee Crisis (July 23): According to Margaret Wente, the heartbreaking loss of 38,000 bee colonies this winter amounts to “rebounding.” Ontario beekeepers are grateful that this is fewer than the 58,000 hives lost in 2014, but Ontario’s rate is still three times that of other provinces.

There’s a difference between losses and decline. Beekeepers are losing hives to neonicotinoid poisoning but making up hives in the spring by dividing surviving colonies. The number of colonies measured in midsummer doesn’t reflect the large number lost throughout the season, nor the 30,000 queens or nearly 20,000 bee packages that  beekeepers had to buy last year to replace colonies that failed.

Ontario’s honey production, on a per colony basis, is down by 40 per cent since 2003, the start of neonics. Although Canada is a net exporter of honey, Ontario has a honey trade deficit of nearly $15-million due to the lack of safe bee pasture and the inability of pesticide-weakened colonies to meet current demand.

Research shows that 93 per cent of beekeepers and 80 per cent of the public across Ontario support the government’s plan to restrict neonics.

Tibor Szabo, president, Ontario Beekeepers’ Association