The Organic View: An Interview with OBA VP Tibor Szabo

In this special series called “The Neonicotinoid View”, hosts June Stoyer and guest co-host, Tom Theobald, talk to the Vice-President of the Ontario Beekeeper’s Association, Tibor Szabo. Tibor is a 3rd generation beekeeper and the largest queen producer in Canada

In a document titled, “Evaluation of Canadian Bee Mortalities that Coincided with Corn Planting in Spring 2012”, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) reported some of the events of this historic crisis. “PMRA received a significant number of honeybee mortality reports from the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario. A portion of these mortalities were determined to be associated with spray drift, however, an unusually high number of reports of honey bee mortalities were received from beekeepers in corn growing regions of Ontario and Quebec. The majority of reports were from southern Ontario, involving over 40 beekeepers and 240 different bee yard locations. Additionally, one report was received from Quebec involving eight bee yards. Timing and location of these honey bee mortalities appeared to coincide with planting corn seed treated with insecticides. An evaluation was undertaken to assess whether pesticides may have contributed to the mortalities and whether regulatory action was required. This evaluation focused only on pollinator mortalities that coincided with planting treated corn.

The information evaluated suggests that planting of corn seeds treated with the nitro guanidine insecticides clothianidin and/or thiamethoxam contributed to the majority of the bee mortalities that occurred in corn growing regions of Ontario and Quebec in Spring 2012. The likely route of exposure was insecticide contaminated dust generated during the planting of treated corn seed. The unusual weather conditions in the spring of 2012 were likely also a contributing factor.”