Friday, 16 January 2015

Honeybee Health and Colony Collapse Disorder. A Manitoba Beekeeper Tells it Like it Is.

by Larry Powell

A veteran Canadian beekeeper whose operations produce almost half-a-million kilograms of honey per year, Tim Wendell (l.), has learned the hard way, just how big a threat "neonicotinoids" pose to operations like his. "Neonics" are now the most widely used group of insecticides in the world. They are either sprayed on crops such as corn, soybeans and canola, or used to treat their seeds. 









Tim Wendell, above, his wife Isabel and a seasonal staff of about 30 tend 
to over 3,000 hives in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, south of the Town of 
Roblin. PinP photo.

On a recent speaking engagement, he told audiences in Neepawa, MB, he lost one "bee yard" himself in 2012. It was next to a field which had been planted 4 or 5 years straight to corn treated with "neonics." 

He estimates, of the 40 thousand bees in that colony, perhaps only 5 thousand were left. And they were "very disorganized - no longer a community." He says government tests confirmed the chemical had gotten into the wax and pollen of the colony, along with the nearby soil and water

He is believed to be one of the few, or perhaps the only beekeeper in Manitoba who has found direct evidence that the "neonics" have contributed to the "colony collapse" syndrome in this province. Beekeepers in Ontario and Quebec reported huge losses in 2012, due to the same problem. 


Wendell gets upset at "greedy" multinational corporations who make  such harmful products, and their shareholders

And he is critical of methods used by commercial pollinators, who truck their bees long distances to pollinate food crops for others. Such methods are used widely in the U.S. and in Alberta and the Maritimes in Canada. Such practices weaken the bees by subjecting them to poor nutrition and stress.


But Wendell also admits he and his colleagues may, themselves be contributing to the poor state of honeybee health, worldwide. He says he places "miticide" chemical strips in his hives to help combat "Varroa destructor" parasites which have, for years, been attacking honeybees around
the world. Otherwise, he believes, his bees would face huge losses. But Wendell also realizes he must use the strips sparingly because they may themselves be harming the bees. And, if they are overused, they may even be making the mites themselves, immune. He has therefore been searching for and trying more natural treatments that won't put his bees at risk but still control the mites.

Interviews with Wendell, along with his recent slide presentation to the Neepawa Rotary Club, are now being aired in rotation on NACTV (Community access). Just go to "Schedule and Programs" and check out the next "Coffee Chat!" 

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