Canada: Winter losses of Ontario bee colonies possibly worst on record

Currently, Canadian beekeepers are expressing their concern about the effects of poor weather on their colonies. Jim Coneybeare, the president of the Ontario Beekeepers' Association, called the levels of dead or ailing bees ‘astounding’.

An Association survey of almost 900 Ontario beekeepers indicated that 70 percent suffered unsustainable losses this past winter. Coneybeare: "I've been getting calls from beekeepers around the province. The number of dead or weak colonies is astounding. These could be the worst winter losses on record."

That's not just bad for the bees themselves and for beekeepers, but also for vegetable and fruit growers who depend on bees for pollination. The recent long, cold winter that extended into spring was the main reason for the heavy losses. "Pollen from the trees usually comes at the end of March, beginning of April, (but) nobody saw that until the end of April, beginning of May, so a lot of our pollen was delayed," Coneybeare said.

He explained that an abundance of pollen and nectar leads queen bees to raise a lot of young bees, but that production of the brood is cut back if there is not enough.

Coneybeare added: “And then there's still certain areas where we see certain problems with pesticides. Some areas are seeing stress from pesticides so then the hives just don't have as many young bees that survive into the spring." reported that the Association has asked the Ontario government for financial assistance to allow beekeepers to recover and rebuild their colonies.

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