Many factors involved in bee winterkill losses

GUELPH, ON (July 28, 2014) – Following the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists’ release of the Annual Colony Loss Report, Grain Farmers of Ontario would like to reiterate its ongoing commitment to bee health and the importance of scientific research and evidence.

“As we all recall, Ontario experienced a significantly colder and longer winter in 2014 than normal, as well as heavy ice and snow,” says Henry Van Ankum, Chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario. “It was an unpredictable winter and in talking with beekeepers, some hives exhausted all their nutritional resources before the weather was warm enough to open the hives, resulting in higher ‘winterkill’ numbers.”

The report expresses that the Ontario bee population suffered a significant loss over the long, cold winter. The authors of the report propose a link between winterkill and neonicotinoid pesticides. In Ontario, bees face several health risks including varroa mites, disease, lack of nutritional forage, and potential exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides. There has been no scientific link made between any one of these health risks and winterkill.

The report negates to include the reality that overall bee population numbers continue to grow. In Ontario, hive numbers were 75,000 in the fall of 2008 and 100,000 in the fall of 2013. The number of bee colonies has steadily grown, with an increase of 10,000 hives since 2012 when the concerns of neonicotinoids were raised in Ontario.

“Last winter presented numerous challenges resulting in losses across many agricultural sectors,” continues Van Ankum. “Many winter wheat farmers lost acres due to the ice and extreme temperatures, and similarly, we know many beekeepers experienced higher than average losses of bees. This is why, more than ever, it’s important that all stakeholders support each other, use the best science and technology available, and work together towards a sustainable solution based on science and facts.” 

Grain Farmers of Ontario

Grain Farmers of Ontario is the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 corn, soybean and wheat farmers. The crops they grow cover 6 million acres of farm land across the province, generate over $2.5 billion in farm gate receipts, result in over $9 billion in economic output and are responsible for over 40,000 jobs in the province.

Contact:

Barry Senft, CEO – 1-800-265-0550; bsenft@gfo.ca

Henry Van Ankum, Chair – 519-835-4200; henryvanankum@sympatico.ca

Meghan Burke, Communications – 519 767-2773; mburke@gfo.ca

Grain Farmers of Ontario is the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean and wheat farmers. The crops they grow cover 6 million acres of farm land across the province, generate over $2.5 billion in farm gate receipts, result in over $9 billion in economic output and are responsible for over 40,000 jobs in the province.