The Department of Agriculture has made changes to the protocol for importation of beehives for 2020. This is not published on the provincial website for some reason, but interested persons can contact the provincial apiarist, Cameron Menzies to see it.
Gone are all the restrictions on importing beehives from all the areas of Canada known to be infected with small hive beetle. There are no maps or area restrictions anymore. There can be no restrictions because Ontario has given up on controlling or monitoring the beetle and hives are moving freely around the province.
Gone are inspections in Ontario by PEI inspectors. Instead Ontario will do a 10 per cent inspection, the same people who okayed the loads of bees in 2017 that infected New Brunswick and almost infected PEI. Beetles were found by accident by tech transfer students in a apiary which was already inspected and approved for the Island.
How can Premier Dennis King reconcile this with the commitment he made at the leader’s environmental debate to full inspection? How can government claim there is any science behind this importation protocol keeping out small hive beetle (SHB) when the importation of 2017 with almost the same protocol led to many beekeepers in New Brunswick being infected and spreading it around the province afterwards?
Readers of this paper have read my opinions on this issue before. Perhaps you think I may be exaggerating the significance of this pest. I invite you to read the poster on small hive beetle funded by all departments of Agriculture in the Atlantic provinces, all the beekeepers, and all the blueberry associations and processors. It can be found on the internet at:
To quote one paragraph from this poster: “The most considerable damage performed by SHB occurs during the larval stage. Larvae consume virtually every edible substance in the hive except for the wooden hive-ware itself. A large infestation of SHB will cause significant damage to brood, comb, pollen and honey. Excrement defecated by feeding larvae causes honey to ferment and no longer be suitable for human consumption. Frames that have been removed from active colonies are also at risk of SHB damage. Entire seasons’ worth of honey in extraction lines can be spoiled and valuable frames of empty wax comb can be lost if indoor storage facilities are infested.”
How can the Wymans company justify continually pushing our government into allowing high risk importation knowing the facts listed on that poster they helped fund and the importance of bees to their industry? How can Wymans and the Department of Agriculture justify ignoring the long-term needs of the blueberry growers of this province by letting in this pest and jeopardizing the sustainability of our local beekeepers? They have had one year since Ontario lifted movement restrictions on infected beehives in that province (giving up on controlling the spread of SHB) and it has been perfectly clear to them for that whole year that continuing importations into PEI will bring in SHB.
If they had shut the border then blueberry growers would have had the opportunity to make arrangements with beekeepers for meeting their pollination demands with honeybees. Or they could have bought nucs or splits to keep bees themselves. Now they have reduced the options for blueberry growers to bumblebees and leafcutter bees if the importation is stopped. They wasted the whole last beekeeping increase season with their inaction. Although the Wymans company has twice gone into beekeeping and failed, the other beekeepers of this province have continued to overwinter bees and provide thousands of sustainable hives for the good of agriculture here. Why are they not working with them instead of against them? It is a terrible disservice to the long-term needs of their growers.