Caution urged on laying blame for honey bee deaths

© AgMedia Inc.


The evidence is in and has been accumulating around the globe for over a decade. Who are these unidentified "honeybee experts" who "aren't yet ready to point fingers"? What is their evidence and what are their credentials? There is no mystery here, or if there is it is why the regulatory system seems so determined to turn a blind eye and let the environmental destruction continue.

Our position is based on a real threat to the beekeeping industry in Ontario and possibly Quebec that has been confirmed by PMRA. These losses continue unabated in 2013 despite published BMPs. For little or no gain in productivity to corn and soybean crops, we are faced with the loss of an industry, all insect pollinators and impacts to our agricultural system from fruit and vegetable growers to processors. And just as worrying: we are seeing traces of these systemics in soil and water samples. As beekeepers, we simply cannot afford to continue the use of NNI treated seeds on field crops. Ontario Beekeeping Association

Where is your data to prove this? There are still lots of bees. If NNI treated seed is banned, other insecticides will be used. This could result in more bee loses than what we have now. A 10 percent increase in bee deaths should not result in anything being banned. Treated soybean seed has less aphids than non-trreated seed. Non-treated soybeans often require surface spraying with an insecticide. To claim there is no productivity gain is -very- wrong. Ontario Beekeeping Association should check its facts first.

Yes spraying kills all bugs . Good bad and others . Not the best choice I would say and likely why seed treatment has been introduced . I know I have been told that it seems many are using a blanket approach to seed treatments when there is not always a need or pest problem . Proactive approach .
There have been cases where a bug was introduced to deal with a pest and then was later deemed as a pest it self . We have the task of living in harmony with each other . Sadly money seems to rule .

For big Cash-croppers its pretty hard to say this field needs seed treatment and this field does not.When the weather does not co-operate and planting time is short the blanket approach is the only way, the time it would take to switch seed would be unreasonable.
As a farmer who rents out my land,l have never had a pest problem but l know the Air-seeder is coming from a farm that does.

The posting is from their association, and, therefore, represents the views of their members - who are you, and where is your data?

I have been growing soybean for more then 10 yrs now and have never once used treated seed. I would be willing to put my yield up against any one using treated seed. Most years I grow around 800 acres of soybean in 2 county's and have never had a crop fail nor could i say i have ever had any yield drag, after 10 yrs of growing soys i wouldn't still be in business if every thing your saying is true.

I believe the cost of seed treatment would be zeroed out by the supposed 2- 3 bushel loss that is suppose to take place in its absence. The only one losing out is the chemical companies not the farmers.

Sean McGivern

I can't believe it . How long before you think it will be ready for harvest . 15 , 25 years ?

Notice it is the big seed companies and spray suppliers jumping to stablize the boat. Don't muck with their money stream technologies.

If just one swamp flower were noticed to be in danger some environmental group would have things shut down imeadiately.

Of course a website named "Better Farming" would be advocating caution. Your target market is fully invested in the slow death of our land, by way over over cultivation, pesticide use, and erosion to name a few.

It disgusts me that we can be so ignorant in the face of something so dangerous. As a society we need to really change our prioritites here. Health and our environment shouold come first. MONEY AND WEALTH should come last! I fear by the time we learn this tragic lesson, it will be too late. In fact, it may be too late already.

To me "Better Farming" means being responsible for what you put into the ground, as well as what you pull out. Better Farming means sustainable practises that use less energy and water. Better Farming means smaller operations, that are more profitable, and serve the local community first.
To me Better Farming is the only way our society will survive. We are dependant on you the Farmer to smarten-up, to stand-up for what's right.

Stand-up for Earth!

Concerned Citizen

The writing is on the wall....

As a farmer farming 2,000 acres of land conventionally using ZERO NEONICOTINOIDS, I was greatly offended by the letter i received in my mail box today from Grain Farmers of Ontario wanting me to write my MP / MPP begging them not to ban them. We have never used them and will never use they are high dangerous not only to the health of the bee's but also to us as human's, google and see for your self. Honestly I've never encountered any farm organization that has less of a spine then GFO, they have sold their soul more times then any other farm organization. Grain Farmers of Ontario, doesn't represent farms it funded by farmers but represents BIG AG, they have zero credibility they've been bought off by the big Chemical Companies, they are a joke at best.

The Practical Farmers of Ontario so far is the only Farm Organization with enough morals to actually call it like it is, I encourage every farmer to spend one hour looking into these seed treatments, remember when your dead from cancer, your wife and kids won't care how many bushels of soybeans or corn Dad could grow, well you were killing your self in the process. remember the workers in the factories where these products are made wear protective clothing, well us farmers wear a ball cap and tee shirt and use our hands to spread seed from one side of the drill to the other side in a rush just to finish last pass in the field at the end of a long day.

Sean McGivern
Practical Farmers of Ontario
RR#1 Desboro, NOH 1K0

The Grain Farmers of Ontario would claim that, wouldn't they? After all, they wasted my check-off fees a few years ago financing a study which claimed that since the adjusted Ontario corn basis hadn't increased because of ethanol, then ethanol hadn't harmed livestock feeders - this report promptly sank out of sight when I advised GFO that a "no-change-in-basis" also meant that ethanol hadn't helped grain farmers, and if ethanol hadn't been of benefit to anyone, why are grain farmers so-supportive of it? Therefore, when it comes to credibility, and/or objectivity, GFO is no different than the fearmongers at SM5. I recall a similar issue with Lasso, a popular herbicide in the early 80s, which was eventually banned in spite of fierce lobbying by farmers - we got along without Lasso, and if we are forced to do so, we'll get along without this particular product also.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

I would like to say that I think the PFO leader either has trouble reading or was sent a totally different post card by GFO . No where on the post card I recieved today does it beg people to write their MP/MPP . It simply says to talk to your MP/MPP . Funny how some can't seem to read or comprehend the English language . I don't think any one at GFO would beg any one and especially you for any thing ! So nice to see someone twist the truth and procliam it as gospel . Really I would not lie to you !! ;-)

Writing or talking are both communicating...or texting or emailing or morse code. Really...there is no difference, so don't try to make a point of it.
I am also offended that GFO has asked me to "communicate" with my MP/MPP, and if I do it will be to ask for a ban!

Write Talk but not begging . That would be the day that I would get on my knees other than at church and one other time on one knee .
Begging is some thing that I have seen happen by other sectors which resulted in the screwing of their own who really needed the help .

Truth and honesty seem not to be in some persons code of ethics .
I can't even call that a white lie .

This goes to show that it is the same as with many things that there are and can be things affected that were not thought of or seen at the time the approval was granted . Perfect example is wind turbines and the health affects . More like a mirror image . We will have to see just how much Big Money is able to influence the out come so that they can continue to fill their pockets .
I do have concerns for how this will affect farmers but do not think any farmer is wanting to hurt the environment .


As someone who was quoted in this article, and as an expert, I want to make a very significant clarification. During the interview I did NOT state "but beekeepers have always had good success in dealing with pesticides". I stated that beekeepers have had good success in dealing with varroa mites, which is another stress impacting honey bees. The author also left out the any discussion on the spring incidents where dead and dying honey bees were found with insectides used in seed treatments in the 70% of the analysis done by Health Canada as part of investigations on the cause of the dead bees. I will leave my comments about the article at that. In the end it will be imporant to look at the this issue objectively from the standpoint of evidence highlighted in the reports from Health Canada.

Paul Kozak
Ontario Provincial Apiarist

Some people will always be ready to jump the gun when it comes to accusations about who or what is responsible for the Bee die-off.Why do some parts of Vancouver Island have almost a 90% Bee mortality with no corn or soybean planters to blame ?
We have had a single hive of Honey Bee's on the property for over 60 years.l am certainly not a bee expert but we have corn and soybeans all around us and their numbers are as strong as ever.The only difference l can see is that l can't remove any honey because of their location and the hive has some great protection from the winter winds, l would be very interested for the Bee health group to examine some of these bee's and tell me why they are doing well when so many are not!

It is important that we take a step back and look at the big picture here. Whatever the causes of the bee die-off it is happening year after year and it is happening fast. We are risking the loss of our main pollinators so that some grain farmers can increase their yields 3 bushels to the acre. We are risking our food system and the livelihoods of many, many other farmers so that (mainly) corn and soy yields can be increased 2%.

Do I need to remind everyone what products we rely on pollinators for? Alfalfa, soy, blueberries, apples, almonds, cotton...the list is nearly endless.

I wonder what the cost to a farmer is to have the seed treatments on their seeds? Does it wash with the 2% increase they see? If so then we our risk is even more lopsided because the only possible winner in the bet are the chemical companies. Actually in the end we all lose, including those with inflated bank accounts, because you can't buy blueberries if they don't get pollinated. Maybe this is all a clever plan to open a new sector in the economy: human pollination teams.

The honeybee population crisis is complex. The politics and misinformation that are being spread by vested interests is not. Neonicotinoids have been fingered as a primary suspect in this mystery by a large volume of credible studies and reports. If this were a criminal case Neonics would be pulled off the streets and locked up so they could do no more harm before their trial. Industry and government are keen to bring up specific experts and science to justify their policies and profits. Do not confuse the complexity of causation with the scheming avarice of industry.

A ban on Neonicotinoids is the only rational and sane way forward. It may be a set-back for some farmers in the short run but this issue is about more than just a sector of the economy. This is about the health of our food system. We MUST "first do no harm."

-Nathan Carey, NFU Grey County.

We do need to do the right thing but science needs to be used .
I can read the headlines now . Ontario To Lead The Globe In Neonic Ban .
Sounds eerily familliar Ontario To Lead the Globe In Clean Energy . So how is that working ? Claiming the the most stringent set backs in the world and people are getting sick , our hydro prices are forcing industry out of the province , residents are struggling to pay their hydro bills that never stop increasing and are due to double in the near future .

I thought all the NFU ecological types were going to save us with their niche market way of life that has been proven to not be able to feed the world . Also it is easy to see that the NFU and PFO are for the most part the same .

Here is where many get off the tracks, Farmers who are involved in more sustainable farm organizations are not focused on feeding world, Who ever said it was our duty as farmers to feed the world ?
Sustainable farmers are generally about producing the highest quality food for people in their region, county or providence. Many sustainable farmers are also about educating people and empowering people to take an active role in the food choices, by either volunteering or taking out farm shares in a farm or even just by coming for a visit to get a better understanding of farming.

We need science that errs on the side of caution and goes through proper research trials over longer period of time, rushing to the market place with a product DDT or AO has proven to not be a wise choice and has proven fatal.

A ban is required because proof beyond a reasonable doubt can not be proven that the product is safe.

Sean McGivern

Did you get your second paragraph from the SM book ? Sure sounds like what they do !
"Sustainable farmers are generally about producing the highest quality food for people in their region, county or providence. Many sustainable farmers are also about educating people and empowering people to take an active role in the food choices, by either volunteering or taking out farm shares in a farm or even just by coming for a visit to get a better understanding of farming."

Would like a pail of water now ?

I am not sure where you got that logic from other than maybe being one who is only concerned with feeding the rich . Who are you growing food for ?
Why are you even growing food if not for others to eat ?
Why is it you farm ?
I can't believe you would put some thing like that out for the public to see and being the leader of a group with farmer in the name !

It's like this ... Guns don't kill people , people kill people . I would hope you could understand that much .

Now being of your tender age I am sure you have no grasp of the fact that when people don't have money things look bad . But when people are hungry they are worse than any other and there is no telling what they might do . Ask some one who has lived through a war if food is valuable .

One of the most galling things about the pro-ethanol lobby is that they almost wore out the claim that ethanol is "sound science" - while it may have been sound science to some people, it was, and still is, wretched economics.
Therefore, the claim of "sound science" can be, and definitely was with ethanol, extremely-misleading, especially when this claim gets used by both sides of the debate.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

When it comes to ethanol it is a replacement for gas which comes from oil which does not regenerate quickly .

I will agree that the science is used to manipulate when it comes to the Greed Energy Act . There is no shortage of power or power sources . Heck they are paying the nukes and hydro to not produce so that the higher priced ones can rape the consumer .

We should then be asking our neighbors to the south how the cotton and almonds are doing because you could likely bet the farm that there is more used there than here . Or do we grow those here ?

It seems as though GFO's post card would have me lobby to not have a ban on Neonicotinoiuds. As I understand chemicals lic for use in Canada that is the domain of PMRA (federal).

Is is likely that a call for a ban in Ontario would be initiated while Quebec (new york and Michigan) would continue to use Neonicotinoiuds? If a total ban was to be put in place would this include the Neonicotinoids used in Orchards as well?

Why has all the blame for bee die offs been placed on cash crops that largely have no bee attractive flowers while orchards laden with blossoms AND Neonicotinoiuds go unmentioned?

This is long on emotion and short on science much like the cosmetic spray ban. I would have trouble supporting the post card request of GFO to stop the ban without the much required scientific investigation to establish fact over emotion.

This is a huge issue to the whole food chain. The reason this is be placed as you said on cash croppers is because the bee's are drinking ground water in corn and soy fields that has been come from rain fall.
The bees like to drink the puddled water because it is shallow and warm and located close to food.
This is where the bees are in-taking the Neonicotinoiuds and because of this they are dying from an over dose.
There is all kinds of science to prove this, So just think what it is also doing to our well water and on ponds and water ways.

I just love how people come on to these forms and rant and rave but will never add their name to their posts, all that i can believe is that it is Big Ag Chemical companies posting this stuff or else they would sign their name to their comments.

Sean McGivern

Well then there shouldn't have been many Bee deaths last year cause there sure wasn't a lot of puddled water anywhere.l think there are many reason's why there is a decline in Hives and Bee numbers but some people have tunnel vision.We have to look at them all!
Most of us on here are not on some sort of recruitment crusade, nor do we garnish the attention that some other wishful full-time journalists crave on here as well.We simply are saying look at all the possibilities and do it with unbiased people on the panel.

Tell that to the Bee Keeper with 80% of his bees laying on the ground dead after the guy finishes planting in the adjoining field...and the bees test positive for neonicotinoiuds. I know, that's just anecdotal evidence.

Yes I agree it is circumstantial but do you know for sure no orchards were sprayed in the same time frame? Would you be happier to have insecticide applied on crop later in the year. You are a perfect example of " when emotion prevails reason fails". That is why I suggested a much more scientific approach.

Seems to me this "science" mantra is more of an excuse than a process. Science, like any thing else can be selective, biased and misleading, depending on self interest. Caution would be the process I would like to see used. You are a perfect example of "use my reasoning".

You seem more comfortable to quip phrases than find solutions. There are several choices 1 Go with the GFO post card plea of no ban so achieve 3 bu more crop no science no debate. 2 apply some science and develop an approach to a workable solution (we all need bees) or 3 just turn the problem over to bureaucrats and politicians lead by Mike Duffy (greed) and Anthony Weiner who will definitely need to rewrite the birds and the bee story to someones satisfaction.

Look at every aspect, and try to figure why some hives florish while others die off.Why some Bee-keepers have had very little kill-offs while others have high numbers.
Hard to believe but there where actually a large number of people in Walkerton that DIDN'T get sick from the water.This is the same principle!

I was told that last year with all the bee deaths that the honey producers never had a better yield . Now if so many of the bees died why would that be . Could it be that those bees who died were not pulling their weight ? Not sure as to the what and the why but does sound a little off .
Were there any reports of no pollination Last year ? Also not a good year to go by with all the early frost damage .

It does not look like bee numbers have dropped to me , many bees seem to be out and about around here .

I really don't like your Walkerton example . To me not even close to the same . Walkerton as far as I know was a fault that justice or the court never really blamed but the province paid and is still paying for and we have a list of regulations to abide by that have come from it because of bad planning and well you know .

You simply don't look at the Bee's that die but the ones that are heathy as well.

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