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Ontario Bee Health Working Group releases report

March 31, 2014, Ontario – The Ontario Bee Health Working Group has released a report that is meant to provide options for mitigating the potential risk to honey bees from exposure to neonicotinoid seed treatments.

In response to reported bee mortality incidents, the Ontario Minister of Agriculture and Food established the Ontario Bee Health Working Group in July 2013 with the mandate to support the development and implementation of strategies to mitigate the risk to honey bees from exposure to neonicotinoid seed treatments on corn and soybeans. The 33 members of the working group represent the apiary sector, research institutions, grain growers, agri-business industry and government. The working group met throughout the summer and fall and identified a range of options to mitigate the risk to honey bees from neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seeds.

Given the divergent opinions held by members on the issues associated with bee health and potential impact of neonicotinoid treated seeds, it was recognized that consensus would not be possible in all cases. All options that were identified are contained in the report, with considerations provided for each option. The 13 options for action include improvements to growing practices and communications, environmental enhancements, technology advancements and training as well as regulatory approaches. Where consensus was reached, government and industry have collaborated extensively and taken action to implement those options.

Many of the options have already been implemented by government and industry partners as the need to reduce risks to honey bees from neonicotinoid seed treatments is recognized by all parties. Actions that have already been acted on include improvements and promotion of Best Management Practices, mandating the use of a new fluency agent and developing a bee yard/field identifier application. Further research and analysis will be required prior to implementation of a number of the identified options.

The members of the Bee Health Working Group say they came to a better understanding of the impact of this issue on the different stakeholders represented in the working group. Click here to read the Ontario Bee Health Working Group's full report.