Alberta deadline

A Bad Beekeeper

Sorry I was late posting this. Hope you are not in big trouble now. But Albertans who keep honey bees or who own beekeeping equipment are required – by law – to register as a beekeeper by June 29 of each year. Registration is nearly painless – previously-registered beekeepers receive a form to fill out before the deadline. New beekeepers need to ask for the paperwork. Although compliance is more difficult than buying a long-gun in Alberta (which is super easy, believe me, I know from experience), the registration process isn’t too tough. They need your name, location, and number of colonies. This is to help control the spread of bee diseases. If you are new to beekeeping, contact Dr Medhat Nasr, the provincial apiarist, and his staff will help you out. Their number is 1-780-415-2314.

How are Alberta’s bees? With the growing concern over the role neonicotinoids play in severe overwintering problems for honey bees, Alberta beekeepers should be worried, say anti-nic activists. Of course, they are right. The stuff is poison, a pesticide designed to kill sucking bugs. Alberta is Canada’s biggest honey producer (Alberta beekeepers make about 5 times as much honey each year as Ontario beekeepers.) and our main honey crop from canola. Canola grows from seeds treated with neonicotinoids and each year the farmer plants new seeds for each new canola crop. You can see where this is heading. Or maybe not. Last winter, Alberta had excellent wintering of honey bees. According to chief inspector Dr Nasr, the province lost only 10 to 15 percent of its bees. And it was a long, cold, nasty winter. In fact, the Western Producer ran a story about Alberta that beamed, “Bees come through gruelling winter in good condition” and indicated that losses averaged half of last year’s numbers. I can’t understand this. If the neonicotinoids are as bad as claimed (and maybe they are?) then Alberta should be ground-zero for death and destruction. But it is not. I know of one newish beekeeper who had pretty awful wintering this year due to nosema and wind exposure, but the vast majority had great wintering.

I have heard from a lot of Canadian beekeepers. They are worried that neonics will be incorrectly blamed for bee deaths. The beekeepers fear neonicotinoids will be banned and farmers will be back to aerial spraying which slaughtered bees by the billions back in the 1980s. But if the neonics are actually causing the massive deaths attributed to them in other places, we don’t want that either.

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
This entry was posted in Culture, or lack thereof, Diseases and Pests, Pesticides, Save the Bees and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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