Letter from the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association

Ontario Beekeepers’ Association (OBA)

March 23, 2017

Re: Review of Lanark County Herbicide Spraying Decision for Wild Parsnip

Since 1881 the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association (OBA) has represented the interests of Ontario’s beekeepers.

Honey bees and wild bees are vital to a healthy ecosystem and they play a crucial role in Ontario’s agriculture sector. Over one third of our diet comes directly or indirectly from insect pollinated plants, and about 80 per cent of wild, flowering plant species would not exist without pollination.

Despite the critical importance of pollinators to the economy and the environment, Ontario is experiencing disturbing declines in pollinator populations. This is due to a number of interacting stressors including exposure to systemic pesticides applied to widespread plantings of cash crops (corn and soy) that has reduced available bee forage in many parts of Ontario.

The OBA supports the restoration of pollinator-friendly roadside strips or parklands that are not adjacent to crops with seeds treated with water-soluble systemic neonicotinoid pesticides.Research that sampled bees, pollen and comb has shown that these highly toxic pesticides translocate via groundwater to the adjacent flowering plants that bees may visit.

The OBA also recommends municipalities avoid chemical weed control. We have found a disturbing pattern where chemicals registered by PMRA as safe for bees, eventually prove tobe toxic to insect pollinators. New studies are now emerging linking herbicides to honey bee health.1 Research has also documented synergistic effects that shows mixing of agricultural chemicals may significantly increase their toxicity.

Jim Coneybeare

President, Ontario Beekeepers’ Association (OBA)

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25063858