The pesticide industry wants you to believe that bees are thriving, not dying. That is far from the truth.
Thanks to pesticides called neonics, bees around the world are dying at a shocking rate. We must act to save the bees before they all disappear—along with our food security and biodiversity.
Misleading claim #1: The number of bee deaths has gone down.
“Health Canada recently released a report indicating that, in 2014, that the number of honey bee incidents during planting was down 70 per cent from 2013.” – Paid Advertisement in the Globe and Mail, January 31, 2015.
This claim doesn’t paint an accurate picture. Health Canada, in the full report released later, found that 70 per cent of the dead bees were found with neonicotonoid residues and concluded that “exposure to neonicotinoids during the corn and soybean planting period contributed to bee mortalities in 2012 and 2013.” Ninety per cent of the hives in 2013 had neonic residue which played a critical role in overwinter loss because bees are being poisoned. This clearly establishes a link between neonic exposure and bee death.
Misleading claim #2: Bee colonies have gone up, not down, since neonics have been used.
“Honey bee colonies are up almost 60 per cent since 2003, when the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments were introduced.” – Paid Advertisement in the Globe and Mail, January 31, 2015.
Unless we stop using neonics, bees will continue to die. Last year, 58 per cent of all the hives in Ontario were lost (compared to the average winter loss of 15 per cent.) Because of this, beekeepers are also having to replace their Queens which is costly.
Living Bee Colonies in Ontario
Misleading claim #3: Scientific research has consistently shown that neonics have no impact on bees.
“…Real-world level field research consistently demonstrates that response use of neonicotinoid seed treatments does not result in honey bee colony health issues” and “other countries, including England and Australia, that rely on science-based regulatory systems have concluded that any risk to… bees from neonicotinoids is low.” – Paid Advertisement in the Globe and Mail, January 31, 2015.
Based on science, the European Union restricted the use of neonics in 2013 and preliminary studies suggest that bee populations are likely recovering. For example, in Italy, several kinds of neonics were banned in 2008 and the number of bee deaths decreased by 25 per cent.
Beehive losses 2007-2008: 37.5% (BEFORE BAN)*
Beehive losses 2010-2011:15% (AFTER BAN)*
5 Reasons Why Banning Neonics is Smart Science:
An analysis of 800 peer-reviewed studies found clear evidence that action was needed against neonics.
An EU nenonics ban has not impacted crop yields and bee hive numbers are starting to increase.
The proposed rules are based on science and the precautionary principle.
Neonics are also toxic to birds. A partridge is at risk of death, if it eats six seeds coated with imidacloprid.
Ontario’s managed honey and bumble bees generate about $897 million in annual sales of crops grown in the province.
Thanks to ten thousands of Ontario residents speaking out for our bees and other pollinators, the provincial government has taken action. New rules which restrict the use of neonics significantly came into force on July 1, 2015. The province’s target is to reduce the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed by 80 per cent by 2017. Farmers are now only able to use neonic pesticides when there is a demonstrated pest problem.
The new rules are a crucial step that will go a long way to ensuring the survival of bees and our food sources. But we have to stay viligant and make sure that Ontario fulfills the target.
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Neonics are not the only pesticides harmful to our environment and ultimately human health. We are partnering with Équiterre to get the hormone-disrupting pesticide atrazine banned in Canada. The widely used herbicide pollutes our waterways, affecting wildlife and contaminating drinking water supplies. Atrazine has been banned in the EU for years, but Canada is lagging behind.
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