P.E.I. beekeeper concerned by beetle in Ontario hives
'The best thing to do would be not to allow hives in from that part of Ontario'
An Island beekeeper is calling on the P.E.I. government to do more to protect against a beetle that can damage honey.
The small hive beetle has been found in parts of Ontario, including the Niagara region. The beetle's excrement can ferment honey, which one beekeeper describes as "sliming the hive."
If they find small hive beetle, destroy the whole truckload of hives.— Stan Sandler, beekeeper
"This is the time to do something, now before those hives come in," said Stan Sandler, a beekeeper in eastern P.E.I. who has about 3,000 hives and sells his honey as Milk and Honey Farm.
"The best thing to do would be not to allow hives in from that part of Ontario."
- Nova Scotia beekeepers concerned about spread of beetle infestation
- Nova Scotia blueberry growers need Ontario bees
Destroy the truckload
And Sandler wants to see officials take drastic measures if bees are imported from Ontario and found to have small hive beetles.
"If the hives come and when they're tested here, if they find small hive beetle, destroy the whole truckload of hives that came," said Sandler.
"If they were going to lose the whole load of bees, and it would be an expense of a couple of hundred thousand dollars, then they have the incentive to do a good inspection."
He argues the bees are in close proximity on the truck, making the spread of the beetle more likely.
"This wouldn't cost the government anything, it puts the onus on the blueberry company that's bringing the bees in from Niagara."
New protocols in place
"Increased inspections, putting small hive beetle traps into hives before they get here which are checked before they leave Ontario and they'll also be checked when they arrive on P.E.I. as well," explained Chris Jordan, the provincial apiarist and berry development officer with the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
But Jordan said the regulations won't be changed to include destroying all of the bees if a hive beetle is found.
"That's a little heavy-handed," he said.
"We are going to destroy colonies on a pallet. A pallet may contain anywhere from four to eight hives of bees. So if we find on our P.E.I. inspections that there's one beetle, or any life stage of the beetle, that whole pallet will be destroyed but not the entire load."
Training for Island beekeepers
"We will take it each year at a time. This year we've set our protocol and we'll monitor that and see how it works. Next year may be different," he said.
The department will be training P.E.I. beekeepers on how to identify and manage the small hive beetle. The Island government is also offering funding to help Island beekeepers modify their operations if the beetle becomes established on P.E.I.
In Nova Scotia, the Beekeepers Association asked the province to close the border to imported bees. Instead the province opted to send an inspection team made of local beekeepers and blueberry growers to Ontario to inspect hives for small hive beetle before they are shipped. They are also going to be put in quarantine.