Small Hive Beetle temporary hold order areas (quarantine zones) in the Fraser Valley, Oct. 2015. Source: Ministry of Agriculture.

Small Hive Beetle quarantine lifted for B.C. beekeepers

Paul van Westendorp, B.C.’s provincial apiculturist, has notified the B.C. beekeeping community that he has now rescinded the five Small Hive Beetle hold order areas (euphemistically known as quarantine zones) in the Fraser Valley effective Wednesday, Oct. 7.

The lifting of the orders comes a week before they were to expire, and come after van Westendorp reviewed the status of the problem. You’ll find below his note to us all, with an explanation for why the orders were lifted.

I spoke to van Westendorp and he indicated that he saw no reason to continue the quarantine zones now that he had completed all the mandatory inspections. Since the first discovery on August 27, he had found about a dozen adult hive beetles in the five overlapping zones.

He said part of his decision stemmed from a request from the new B.C. Commercial Beekeepers Association, whose president John Gibeau had asked for help given that many of their members have hives that need to be repatriated from Alberta for overwintering in B.C.

Van Westendorp said he decided to step back and look at the request, and then consulted with other ministry staff and the province’s legal beagles to make sure changing the expiry date was appropriate. He said from a science-based point of view it was appropriate to end the quarantine now, given that he’d finished his inspections and there was no expectation of further finds.

He said he had also briefed Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick on the finds, and his plan of action. When I ran into Letnick a couple of weeks ago at a government function he said van Westendorp had given him the run-down, and that he had confidence that the Apiculture Department would sort issues out in time for next spring’s pollination season.

This comes as the debate over just how serious the SHB finds are in B.C. The B.C. Honey Producers Association has brought in two speakers from Ontario (Les Eccles) and Alberta (Medhat Nasr, the provincial apiculturist), who will give us updates on how their provinces are dealing with this new pest.

No doubt there will also be lots of debate by the membership. I’ve heard differing views, from those who say the beetle is likely only a nuisance here because of our climatic conditions, to the very far end of the spectrum, those who want to raise the drawbridge,  pour flaming oil into the moat and establish quarantine zones all over the place.

Hopefully sane heads will prevail. In the meantime, here’s van Westendorp’s note, along with an updated map of the quarantine areas.

Please note that the local Quarantined Zones and Hold Orders issued to beekeepers within the zones will be rescinded effective Wednesday, October 07, 2015.

Background:

The purpose of the Quarantined Zones and issuance of Hold Orders on August 31, 2015 was to enable the BC Ministry of Agriculture to carry out surveys and determine the current distribution and prevalence of Small Hive Beetle in the Fraser Valley. The Quarantined Zones and Hold Orders were to expire on October 15, 2015.

Developments:

Surveys were completed by the end of September with indications about the current distribution and prevalence of Small Hive Beetle in the central Fraser Valley. (Please note the attached map with the most up to date information).

With the completion of the survey, the purpose of the Quarantined Zones and Hold Orders have been met. The earlier expiry date will facilitate the movement and placement of honey bee colonies for wintering purposes in the Fraser Valley.

Future Actions:

Consultations are planned with Alberta, Manitoba and the beekeeping industry to establish inspection standards and protocols that will facilitate the movement of honey bee colonies in the spring of 2016 while minimizing the risk of introduction of the Small Hive Beetle to other parts of British Columbia and other provinces.

 

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