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Bees in decline

By Kasia Bodurka
Thursday, October 24, 2013, 5:29 PM

Beekeeper Mylee Nordin manages four bee colony sites in urban Ontario. 

While Nordin's bees are doing well, that's not the case for many colonies in the area -- especially those in rural areas.

Bee keeper Bill Ferguson says the health of Ontario's bees isn't what it used to be. He believes that the widespread use of pesticides is the leading cause of the population decline.

READ MORE: Scientists uncover why millions of bees are dying

Neonics, or Neonicotinoides, are a type of insecticide used to control a variety of pests.

Like Bill Ferguson, many bee keepers and researchers suspect they're connected to the global bee decline. In response, several European countries have imposed partial bans on neonics. 

But that's not the case here in Canada.

"The jury is still out on the science as it relates to crop protectants in the European situation ... We're working with growers, we're working with the bee keepers. We're also working with Health Canada on their approach to looking at some of these pesticides and we're also trying to isolate through our research community what it is we can do," says Greg Douglas of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

Ferguson, on the other hand, says the government has been "dragging its feet" on the issue.

"[They] already know what's going on now but for some reason they don't want to ban the chemicals," he says. 

Either way, something needs to be done to protect the dwindling bee population.

Approximately one third of our food supply relies on honey bees for its production.

Nearly all fruit and many vegetables are insect pollinated, predominantly by bees. If we lose them, we risk losing much more than just honey.

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