The city of Hamilton will still look at banning insecticides suspected of killing honeybees. But it’s going to see what other levels of government are doing about it first.
Council voted Friday to write to the provincial and federal governments to see what they were doing to study neonicotinoids, a class of chemicals commonly used on agricultural crops and implicated in the widespread death of honeybees. When it gets a response, it will “identify gaps” in the research and possibly do its own.
The move comes after Coun. Sam Merulla of Ward 4 wanted the city to look into banning the chemicals. Since Merulla first declared his intention, Ontario Agricultural Minister Jeff Leal has said he’s looking at an Ontario-wide restriction.
For now, Merulla said, he’s happy to learn what the provincial and federal governments are doing about the issue. Other councillors agreed.
“Between the notice of motion a couple of weeks ago and today, the province has stuck its oar in the water,” Coun. Brian McHattie said.
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In several studies, neonicotinoids have been implicated in the decline of the honeybee population, which experts say jeopardize the fate of the worldwide food supply. While the Ontario Beekeepers Association reported better honeybee numbers last year, recent years have brought an alarming decline.
This week, a University of Guelph study published in the journal Functional Ecology that again shows an impact of neonicotinoids on honeybees.
Experienced bees bring back more and more pollen to the hive as they get better at foraging, the study shows. But that doesn’t happen with bees exposed to neonicotinoids.
A Health Canada study has also linked widespread bee deaths to the chemicals.
Ontario can’t ban neociotinoids, but it can ban the sale of them in the province.
“Over the coming months, I want to first consult with industry, farmers and environmental stakeholders on options that are practical, including the consideration of a licence system,” Leal said.
Europe has already imposed a temporary ban.
In June, the city’s agriculture and rural affairs advisory group called on council to wait on more research and regulation before considering a ban.