Gerry McKee, the chairman of the Canadian Honey Council, sent me a note late last night confirming the first reported bee kill this year from corn pesticides in Ontario.
You will remember that last year 40 beekeepers with 200 bee yards weathered devastating losses after many of their hives were killed during corn seed planting in the spring.
The incidents were investigated by Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency which confirmed high levels of neonicotinoid pesticides in the bees. It issued new – but voluntary – guidelines for farmers in how to apply the neonic-coated seeds, and especially how to reduce the pesticide-carrying dust that kicks up from the seed planters.
Unfortunately, Dan Davidson, the president of the Ontario Beekeepers Association, discovered many dead bees in front of their hives this week after a nearby farmer planted pesticide-treated corn on Friday.
On Tuesday night Amanda and I attended the monthly Langley Bee Club where McKee reported on the growing concern among the Canadian Honey Council and others that neonicotinoid pesticides may be more of a problem for beekeepers than first thought.
He suggested that the PMRA may have acted with alacrity in first approving the use of this class of pesticides. But he also says the agency is taking a careful, measured and science-based approach in trying to determine if they should continue to be approved. For those who are new to this issue, I have written on PMRA’s review here and here. You can also find more about the European Union’s new ban on three neonicotinoid pesticides here.
So far there have been no reports of bee kills in B.C. from neon’s, although corn for silage is a major crop in the upper Fraser Valley.
As always, I suspect, it will be a case of needing to communicate with farmers about what they are applying to their crops, and education about how to avoid poisoning pollinators.