Pesticide regulation in bee deaths gets mixed reaction
Declining bee population can't only be blamed on pesticides, says farmer
There's mixed reaction from Nova Scotia beekeepers about new federal regulations aimed at reducing honeybees’ exposure to pesticides that are suspected of killing the insects in large numbers.
Health Canada’s agency responsible for pesticide regulation released a list of actions last week to try to force corn and soybean farmers to follow certain seed-planting practices, improve labels on pesticide and seed packages and require seeds to have "dust-reducing" lubricants.
Paul Kittilsen, who has been keeping bees in Debert for more than 30 years, said pesticides are just one of many things making it difficult to keep bees alive.
"There's no doubt that there's been an increased use of pesticides in the province as agriculture, as other parts of agriculture seem to be expanding," he told CBC News.
"Insecticides are hard on bees."
Kittilsen has not had any catastrophic bee deaths in his colonies, but he said any change to help bees survive is good.
"With the higher commodity prices for corn and soybeans, there's more ground that we used to use for bee pasture is now being planted with corn and soybeans," he said.
Since 2009, Quebec beekeepers have suffered pesticide-related issues with their colonies, but concern around the issue heightened after an unusual number of bee deaths near corn fields were reported across Ontario last spring.
Seventy per cent of the dead bees tested came up positive for neonicotinoids, a pesticide used to coat many corn and soybean seeds before planting.
Adam Collins, a beekeeper in Halifax, said the declining bee population can't only be blamed on pesticides.
"I'm not convinced yet that that's a holistic answer whether all the problems with bees are all wrapped up in pesticides," he said.
Many farmers in Ontario and Quebec have described thousands of their bees dying with their tongues sticking out, wings flared and bodies trembling — signs of acute pesticide poisoning.
Crop farmers plant their seeds using a device called an air seeder that blows the seed into the ground down a tube. Talcum powder is used to lubricate the seeder, but use of the powder is believed to cause insecticide from the coated seed to get blown into the air and get picked up by foraging bees.