So just to recount, every other year our black locust trees blossom into beautiful and very fragrant flowers (see accompanying pictures). As you can see there are a lot of trees and a lot more flowers.
The bees would go wild over these flowers! There would be so many of them that you would think that our backyard was on the 401! The buzzing noise was unbelievable. It would be quite something to sit outside (luckily our trees are very tall 50 to 60 feet +) and have the flowers fall in July with the buzzing sound overhead. One day as I was pushing my youngest on the swing in the early evening, I noticed that the bees had all taken residence in the grooves of the bark of those black locust trees! Amazing! I thought they would go to a hive or something... And there they were, lined up as if they were in a middle of a traffic jam on a Friday afternoon of a summer day in Toronto, one behind the other, all up and down the tree, tree after tree. I wish I had taken more pictures...
If I were to guess the number of bees, it would be in the tens of thousands.
Sadly, they did not show up this year (not a single one!!!!), and the blossoms were just as substantial as they were two years ago... (if not more)
Hope we can see and hear those bees again! You know I'll make a video out of it...
Dear Prime Minister Harper,
Further to the letter which I sent to you last month regarding the astounding deaths of pollinators through the use of a product called neonicotinoids. In that letter I mentioned that acute poisoning has occurred and been verified by the Health Canada agency called the PMRA (Pest Management Regulatory Agency.) Bee hives have died off from these insecticides or been killed off by acute poisoning. These hives have been sampled and verified by this group as the cause of these numerous hive deaths.
During this summer of 2013, at several farmers markets, countless people have signed petitions and also given their stories to myself and other bee keepers alike and they are amazed not only by the lack of pollinators but also by the lack of birds, frogs, toads, bats, turtles, small aquatic creatures such as water spiders and beetles, snails and the latest missing creature noticed by many people the lady bug. I must admit that under all the lids and under my hive boxes I have not seen a single lady bug when normally by this late in the summer there are literally hundreds of these little bugs around these areas of my hives. These little creatures kept the small insect pests that do so much damage to plants, flowers and crops to a minimum when they were a part of the ecology!
The latest but not the greatest news coming in this week is that the annual butterfly count on the Bruce Peninsula was a total flop with the people participating only seeing 1 or 2 butterflies instead of hundreds.
The web site address below is an article recently found by one of our locals and it was written a year ago. Compiled by scientists and ecologists it chronicles exactly what has happened to our flora and fauna in this country and around the world. Neonicotinoids are killing everything in their path, systematically as designed. I’m sure anyone can formulate a product that kills everything in its path – are we and our children next? The Pan Asian group’s food safety report states that there hasn’t been any independent studies or testing done to prove or disprove that the eight or so formulations of neonicotinoids are typified as carcinogens, negative or positive. The report states that the manufacturer has found them not to be cancer causing; which anyone could do to ward off any suspicion and promote products that we now have in all of our food, water and soil.
Again, my challenge to you and your cabinet is to circumvent all the red tape, all the time wasted by the stalls of corporate leaders and share holders. They are only thinking of their pocket books – we are thinking of life and how precious and vital it is at every level in the ecology. These are some valid points that constituents of this province and country are seeing before them as answers that will turn the tide:
Thank you for considering these very provocative thoughts and ideas as you work out a solution to this major issue which has us, the Canadian people on the threshold of an ecological disaster. We are equal to this task and we can be frontrunners on this issue once again for ourselves and the rest of the world. Please help us by banning neonicotinoids now. Thank you.
Apiarist for Sunnyside Honey
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
I am addressing this letter to you and expecting that you will take action on the subject I’m presenting to you within. It is of a most urgent nature that I state the following facts concerning not only the loss of our honey bees, but also the degradation of our environment at every level. That degradation being to humans, animals, plants and insects.
As you know pollinators are declining and dying at alarming rates not only here in Ontario and Canada but worldwide! At the top of the list are of course our honey bees but it is not limited to them only. Yes, I am a bee keeper and have been for a dozen years now; long enough to be shocked at the alarming rate that my bees and hives are being decimated and poisoned by a product used in agriculture that is called neonicotinoids. It was originally used on potatoes 20 years ago but is now used on nearly all fruit and vegetable crops in the entire world.
This year I lost 33% of my hives and not during the winter as was the previous mortality season for bees, but during this spring and summer as crops were being planted all around my bee yards. Last week as I went to each of these yards I found that only a very few hives had any honey and most had none. Bee populations were down dramatically and hives that would normally have at least 20 – 30 thousand bees by now had only 200 – 300 bees, a shocking find.
In one yard a hive had died off completely, highly unusual at this time of year!
How do I know that the insecticides known as neonicotinoids are the culprit? At one of my yards north of Woodford on the 2nd concession about halfway to Annan, I have several hives which were doing quite well 2 weeks ago with several thousand bees in each hive. When I went there last week, there were only a few bees in each of the hives; 200 – 300 per hive. Immediately across the side road a fresh field of 40 -50 acres of canola had come into flower, canola planted with neonicotinoids in them!
Now you may say that that’s an assumption on my part but I’m afraid it’s only part of the “smoking gun” used to murder thousands of creatures. A few weeks ago CTV featured a video shot by one of their journalists of a hobbyist beekeeper with a few hives beside his garage, nice and newly painted and full of bees –dying and dead bees that is! He had called the OMAFRA bee inspectors who documented the bees dying within minutes of a field across the road being planted with corn (I know a CTV journalist locally and I can get a copy, if you so wish).
Then this past week I went to a place called Arkell that is just outside and south of Guelph. A bee keeper there, Tibor Szabo, rears bees and queens for sale to us beekeepers. I was there to pick up packaged bees to replace my losses (33%) in my bee yards. Tibor stated that he had just recently lost 49 out of 50 hives and the 50th wasn’t in very good shape.
A neighbour living near these hives notified him that there was no sign of life around his hives. Tibor went there and found that a field of soy beans had just been planted right next to these hives. Need I say more, well I will. Maybe you are aware of the fact that a beekeeper in Elmwood has lost 600 hundred hives this year to acute poisoning – the product found in the hives by our provincial apiarist, Paul Kozak, was none other than the suspected neonicotinoids.
Mr. Kozak has sampled hive die-offs and deaths at close to 150 events this year all containing the insecticide aforementioned. Last year, 2012, in Huron County, next to a corn field in Hensall, a beekeeper lost 200+ hives to this product and there were 240 die-offs from acute poisoning reported to Paul Kozak with a very high percentage of them containing the same poison.
European countries, mainly in the EU, have taken steps to ban these products this year. Those who have banned them proactively 2 – 3 years ago have seen remarkable recoveries of all their pollinators and especially of their honey bee populations.
I have a further concern that not only is this product killing off pollinators but also our wildlife. This year we have no humming birds at our property, when we normally have 2 – 3 pairs, no flycatchers, no phoebes, almost no birds at our feeders, no butterflies and most disturbing, no bats. At all of the farmers’ markets that we attend our customers are shocked at the lack of these same animals and insects - hundreds of people.
Health Canada’s report states that this product is a reproductive toxin to waterfowl and poisonous to most birds. A local CTV journalist showed me a picture of thousands of neonicotinoid treated soy bean seeds left spilt on a field near Stayner – two piles about 20 feet in diameter. Enough to kill thousands of birds and millions of pollinators and water born insects, nymph shrimp, water spiders, tadpoles and so on.
My challenge to you is to do something about this catastrophe unfolding right now as millions of creatures perish as I write this letter to you. This product does not go away and is accumulating in our soil and waterways. Quebec has tested for neonics in their waterways and rivers and have found residues of this product in all of them. The testing done on these products is incomplete and has only been done by the manufacturer, leaving the answer hanging in the balance as to what it is doing to us as humans. It is definitely in all of our water and food. My question is – what about the health bills that are being added to us by this product…..it’s formulation is the same as nicotine which is a proven carcinogen. Do we want our children and grandchildren to reap what we are literally sowing right now…..this is just like Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” I’m thinking and feeling right now!!!! Please take action on this request – have neonicotinoids banned asap. Thank you.
Apiarist for Sunnyside Honey