New farming guidelines in place to protect honeybees
Neonicotinoids blamed for killing millions of bees
In an effort to protect honeybees, grain farmers in Ontario will have new guidelines to follow this planting season.
According to the the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, farmers can only use a particular type of lubricant to assist in planting seeds coated in a particular family of insecticides.
Farmers can only use Bayer CropScience lubricant in their mechanical planters "to minimize the potential for abrasion that produces insecticidal seed dust."
The government agencies say other methods scrape seeds during planting and create too much dust that can be picked up by pollinating bees.
Last spring, controversy surrounded insecticides, known as neonicotinoids, that coat corn and soybean seeds.
Beekeepers allege the insecticides are responsible for killing millions of honeybees.
Grain farmers say the insecticides mean a better, healthier harvest.
Leo Gilbeault grows soybeans on a farm just outside of Windsor. The seeds he uses come coated in neonicotinoids.
Gilbeault says he will adhere to the new rule and use best management practices to avoid killing bees. However, he won't stop using seeds coated in neonicotinoids.
"If we go without, we're going to take a hit as far as plant quality is concerned," he said. "We need the protection. That's why the technology is out there. But we also need the bees to pollinate."
According to beekeepers in Ontario, neonicotinoids are killing off bees in droves.
The Ontario Beekeepers' Association wants a total ban on neonicotinoids.
"By promoting best management practices the government incorrectly assumes that neonicotinoids could be safe for bees if applied properly at planting time," reads a statement by the association.
It goes on to claim "a growing body of scientific evidence ... proves that the spread of dust from planters is just one way these pesticides are devastating bee populations."
Tom Congdon is a beekeeper in Cottam, Ont., southeast of Windsor.
"There's nothing really we can do. There's nowhere to run. It's not like you can keep the bees from foraging," he said.
For the last two years, Congdon has watched his hives shrink by the hundreds of thousands.
This season, he's expecting more of the same.
"I'm kind of past the nervous part now," he said. "It's frustration that has taken over."
The government has been looking at the link between neonicotinoids and bee deaths for the past year.
Congdon says the government isn't acting fact enough to ban neonicotinoids.