If you have been reading all the news regarding the bee crisis recently, here is an excellent analysis of issues straight from the farmer.
Originally posted on The Fanning Mill:
The past several months have seen a lot of coverage of the alleged links between neonicotinoid insecticides (neonics) and widespread, puzzling, and distressing bee deaths. This week saw the European Commission ban the use of neonics for two years, starting in January of 2014. Many groups are calling for similar action on this side of the pond, while others, both here and in Europe, are more hesitant to declare that we’ve found the smoking gun. The stakes are very high on both sides, of course: everyone has heard about the importance of bees for pollinating food crops, and farmers and farm groups like to point out that seed treatments are essential for crop production and that the alternatives to neonics may prove to be more harmful in the long run.
Forbes published a comprehensive article on the debate and its background on Tuesday which is definitely worth reading. Speaking from a more local perspective, beekeepers in Ontario noticed a spike in bee deaths last spring that coincided with corn planting season, and particularly the use of air seeders (which exhaust dust that can contain neonics and dry lubricants like talc). In response, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture is undertaking research to examine this issue, and they’ve already issued some recommendations aimed at mitigating the risk to bees from air seeders.