Nfld. & Labrador

New beekeeping association minding Newfoundland's beeswax

A newly formed group is asking the public to help it protect Newfoundland's unique bee population, which it says could be under threat from foreign bees and even seeds.

N.L. group warning gardeners not to import seeds treated with pesticides

A new association is trying to protect the bee population in Newfoundland and Labrador. It says bees here are threatened by pesticides and diseases from other parts of North America. (Toby Talbot, File/AP)

A newly formed beekeeping association is asking the public to help it protect Newfoundland's unique bee population, arguing that foreign bees and even seeds from other parts of the world could harm local bees.

Newfoundland's bee population hasn't been infected by mites and illnesses that have been a blight on bees around the world..

"It's the last place on earth that hasn't been touched," says Dan Price, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Beekeeping Association.

Price says provincial legislation protects the local bees by banning the importation of bees from other parts of Canada or the world but he fears a new beekeeper might make a tragic mistake.

"Don't bring used beekeeping equipment or, god forbid, live bees into the province," said Price, citing his advice to others. 

Colony collapse is another threat that bees face.

In many parts of the world, whole bee populations have died or disappeared mysteriously. Some research suggests commonly used pesticides are to blame.

Price says gardeners in Newfoundland and Labrador may be unknowingly putting bees at risk.

"Like ordering gardening seeds from a catalogue … knowing that a lot of these seeds are treated with neonicotinoids and poisons that, that can kill or harm our native bees."

The newly formed association is also hoping to convince more municipalities in the province to allow beekeeping within their boundaries.

"They need to get in the game and know that backyard beekeeping and urban beekeeping is an established thing across North America and around the world in high density urban areas," says Price.

"People don't have to fear bees or beekeeping. Actually the Newfoundland bee is one of the most easy-going and gentle bees around."

So far, beekeeping is permitted in the communities of Pasadena, Paradise and Placentia.


Mark Quinn

CBC News

Mark Quinn is a videojournalist with CBC's bureau in St. John's.


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