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