Bees and Pollinators

Bees may be small, but the impact they have on our environment – and our daily lives – is immense. Bees and other pollinators provide essential services that enable our agricultural systems to function, and they help the natural world to thrive by helping plant communities reproduce and stay healthy.

Pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat, and they contribute billions of dollars to our economy every year. They are critical to the survival of over 80 per cent of flowering plants, including numerous fruits, vegetables and other common crops such as apples, tomatoes, coffee, tea, blueberries, squash and beans.

We rely on bees and other pollinators for so much, but right now our pollinators are in trouble.  Over the past 20 years, there has been a startling decline in honey bees, bumble bees and other pollinators around the world, with the most troubling losses being reported in the last decade. In 2006, scientists began referring to this mysterious phenomenon as “colony collapse disorder” or CCD, a term used to describe the mass disappearance of honey bees in a colony. CCD can be caused by a variety of different stresses that lead to the abrupt disappearance of worker bees.

Here in Canada, honey bee colonies have experienced a large number of deaths in the past few years, and according to the Canadian Honey Council, Canada has lost 35 per cent of its bees annually since 2010.

While there are many different threats facing pollinators today – from parasites and bacterial infections to loss of habitat and monoculture crops – the deadly effects of a specific class of pesticides is causing increasing concern among beekeepers and scientists. These pesticides are called neonicotinoids ("neonics"), and their harmful impacts to bees are slowly being recognized all over the world.

In 2012, a Health Canada investigation confirmed a link between unusually high bee deaths and the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on corn crops in Ontario and Quebec. That same year, a beekeeper in Elmwood, Ontario reported the loss of 37 million bees after nearby cornfields were planted with seeds coated in the pesticide. In 2013, near a Target store in Oregon, 55 trees were sprayed with a neonicotinoid pesticide called Safari. Within days, an estimated 50,000 bumble bees were found dead and dying beneath the trees.

In June 2014, international researchers released the findings of a comprehensive four-year scientific study on neonics, which conclusively demonstrated that these pesticides are a serious risk to bees, butterflies, birds and earthworms. The authors of the international study clearly state that "there is clear evidence of harm sufficient to trigger regulatory action".

After the incident in Oregon, officials have temporarily restricted the use of neonicotinoids in the state. The European Union has also enacted a two-year ban on these chemicals, citing the “unacceptable risk” that they pose to bees. In late 2014, the Ontario provincial government also proposed new rules that would eventually see an 80 per cent reduction in the use of these harmful pesticides. Unfortunately, federal regulators in Canada are falling far behind. 

The Wilderness Committee is joining other bee advocates across the country to push for a complete, nation-wide ban on these bee-killing pesticides – before it’s too late.

You can help by signing the petition to demand a ban on neonicotinoids across Canada!

To download a PDF version of the petition to print out and collect signatures in your community, click here.

 


Photo top: Honey bee hive (Bug Lady/City Farmer)

Photo above left: Endangered rusty-patched bumble bee (Christy M. Stewart)

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Download our latest educational report  Canada's Bees on the Brink education report outlines the dire need for a nation-wide ban on neonicotinoids to protect bees and pollinators.

Take Action

Helping out the Bees in your Garden!

HOW TO GROW A "BEE-FRIENDLY" GARDEN 

Like all living creatures, bees need the basics to survive: food, shelter and fresh water!

This guide is designed to help you make your garden a bee-friendly environment! It includes information about which flowers are best for bees, and some simple tips that you can use to help a bee in need.

Photo: Mike via Flickr. 

CLICK HERE for information on ways you can help the bees in your garden!

 


 

WHERE TO GO FOR PLANTS THIS SEASON!

    When you're shopping for plants for your garden, be extra careful not to purchase plants contaminated with neonicotinoids. 

    Research has shown that up to 50 per cent of ornamental plants sold in Canada are contaminated with bee-killing neonics. When you go to a store to buy bedding plants, make sure you receive a guarantee that the plants you buy have not been treated with neonics. If the retailer can't make that guarantee, don't buy the plant. No one wants to plant a garden that will harm bees!

    CLICK HERE for information on where to buy plants for you garden this season.

     

    Protect Canada's Bees - Ban Neonics

    Sign the petition!

    Did you know that bees and pollinators are in rapid decline? A deadly class of pesticides called neonicotinoids ("neonics") has been linked to a frightening number of bee deaths all over the world. The European Union, Ontario and Quebec have already banned neonicotinoids, but across Canada, they're still widely used.

    Pollinators like bees are essential to both our environment and our agricultural systems. They provide critical services that allow food crops and other plants to thrive, and they contribute billions of dollars to our economy.

    And it's not just pollinators at risk – a comprehensive four-year scientific study on neonics has now conclusively shown that these pesticides are a serious risk to bees, butterflies, birds and earthworms. Scientific research has also raised concerns about possible effects on human health.

    Sadly, the Canadian Honey Council reports that Canada has lost 35 per cent of its honey bee colonies each year for the past three years. In 2012, unusually large numbers of honey bee deaths were reported in several provinces, and a huge die-off in Ontario led to the loss of 37 million bees.

    Our report, “Canada's Bees on the Brink”, explains the vital role that pollinators play in our ecosystems and our everyday lives, and takes a deeper look at recent bee deaths linked to neonicotinoids.

    Please read the report and share it with your friends, family and neighbours. The more people know about pollinators and the threats they’re facing, the better equipped we’ll be to protect them! Click here to download the full report.

    The Wilderness Committee has taken action to ensure that Canada’s pollinators get the real protection they deserve. In September 2013, we joined Ecojustice and four other environmental groups to file an official objection to Health Canada’s recent decision to re-approve one type of neonicotinoid pesticide. Then in March 2014, we called on federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose to stop stalling on critical research and take meaningful steps to protect bees from these harmful pesticides.

    Now we need you to take action, too. 

    Stand up for the bees by signing the petition!! 

    To download a PDF version of the petition to print out and collect signatures in your community, click here.

    You can also take action by writing to Health Minister Rona Ambrose, letting her know how strongly you feel that neonicotinoids should be BANNED across Canada. Write a letter today! 

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