Submitted by Jill Copes, BCWI
It is that time of year when the bee colonies become active again gathering pollen and nectar. There are two interesting articles by SCIENCE Daily regarding the use of glyphosate as a potential cause of hive collapse in honey bees and the other article regarding the development of engineered bacteria that can protect honeybees from hive collapse.
The article regarding glyphosate which is the active ingredient in Roundup states that this product may cause loss of some of the beneficial gut bacteria. The result may allow the bee to be more susceptible to infection and death from harmful bacteria thus contributing to the decline of honey bees and native bees around the world.
Not only do we loose honey production but our major pollinators.
All herbicides should be used with the utmost precautions according to label recommendations and be wary of using this product during the flowering season. For more information review the website.
The other article refers to studies by the University of Texas in the development of genetically engineered strains of bacteria that protect honeybees from hive collapse. This engineered bacteria that live in the gut of honeybees produce medicines to protect against two major causes of colony collapse: Varroa mites and deformed wing virus.
This experiment has only taken place under strict biocontainment protocols used with genetic engineering. There needs to be further research to ensure the safety and effectiveness in agricultural settings.
Honey bees and other pollinators are so important to the existence of our planet. ACWW had a resolution at its last convention regarding pollinators. Diane Kowalski from Manitoba put together an excellent report regarding this. The following is from her report: Develop pollinator-friendly practices.
Canadian agencies and industries appear to be doing good work in developing pollinator-friendly practices.
In 2014, Health Canada implemented risk mitigation measures to help protect bees from neonic-contaminated dust. Data suggests that bee poisoning incidents were lowered by 70-80% in the following three years.
Pollinator Partnership (P2) Canada is a registered charity dedicated exclusively to the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems through conservation, education, and research. One of P2’s programs is Bee Friendly Farming, an online self-certification program.
P2 Canada is a partner in the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign which initiates major programs to protect pollinators and raise issues.
Pesticide labels, by law, are very specific about procedures that must be followed. The PMRA website includes aids to help farmers read labels correctly.
Farmers have easy access to Canadian Best Management Practices for Honey Bee Health. These include best practices during pesticide spraying and responsible use of treated seed. They can also access a “Bee Connected” app.
Bee poisonings related to pesticides can be reported to federal or provincial authorities. Bee Health Roundtable (BHRT) is made up of stakeholders including grower groups. BHRT’s mandate is to create strategies to avoid negative interactions between agriculture pesticide management and bees.