Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Blog Guelph: The buzz about bees

I used to be afraid of bees. 

Growing up in the country I learned to appreciate nature - including insects - but a childhood incident left me scared of bees. One summer day I was walking with my brother, Bruce, and a couple of friends in a valley at the back of our property. Bruce and Angela walked on a log; Robert and I on the ground beside them. Suddenly a swarm of bees emerged from the log and Robert and I received multiple stings. It was a frightening experience but fortunately neither of us were allergic. We healed quickly from the stings, but it took a while to get over the fear.

Now, like many others, I'm concerned about the future of bees.

A variety of sources state that the bee population in Canada has dropped by an estimated 35 percent over the past three years, and that pesticides containing neonicotinoids may be to blame.

I was alarmed and saddened to read early in July that over 30 million bees had been found dead in Elmwood, Ontario. Shortly thereafter it hit home - the Guelph Mercury published an opinion piece about the sudden death of Guelph-area bees - "49 of 50 hives... were wiped out over a couple of days after an adjacent field of soybeans was planted using seed coated in a neonicotinoid pesticide."

Why are bees so important? 

According to Wikipedia "Bees play an important role in pollinating flowering plants, and are the major type of pollinator in ecosystems that contain flowering plants. Bees either focus on gathering nectar or on gathering pollen depending on demand, especially in social species.... It is estimated that one third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination, most of which is accomplished by bees, especially the domesticated European honey bee."

Notable news... maybe there's hope.

In April, Europe banned neonicotinoid pesticides - 'Victory for bees' as European Union bans neonicotinoid pesticides blamed for destroying bee population. (Source: The UK Independent).

Hopefully Canada will follow suit, although I wish it was sooner rather than later. I've read that critics want Canada to follow Europe's lead, and recently it was announced in Ontario that a group of experts will be exploring the possible pesticide link to dead honey bees (Source: Guelph Mercury).

How can you help?

  1. Learn more about the issue. Google "declining bee population in Canada" nets more than three million results.
  2. Create a pollinator garden. Pollination Guelph is a great resource. Information is also available from the City of Guelph's website.
  3. Sign Elizabeth May's online petition to ban the use of neonicotinoids in Canada. To date 16,985 have signed. Another option is to download it, collect signatures and mail it in.
- Kim

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