An unusually high honey bee die-off in Canada is going to impact the world’s farming system. Bees are necessary pollinators and help in all agricultural industries.
In 2020, the total estimated contribution from the Canadian honey and bee industry was between $4 to $5.5 billion. But over this past winter, beekeepers across the province are reporting major losses of up to 90 percent of their colonies, according to the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association.
“This is the worst that we have ever seen and I’ve been doing this for 50 years,” George Scott told CBC Hamilton. “In Niagara, we’ve lost thousands of colonies. Most of our operations here are so severely impaired that we are not going to provide pollination services this year,” he said.
“We believe, and we can document the loss in Canada of farmgate revenue of over $1 billion. So, that’s farmers who are not going to have that revenue because pollination is not going to happen.”
Eduard Unger owns B-Y’s Honey Farm at Niagara-on-the-Lake. He says he’s been a bee farmer all his life and the bee die-off this year is unprecedented. “It will have a big impact on the whole agriculture industry, like all the farmers. The grape farmers, the food farmers, the blueberry farmers, and everybody. They want bees from us, they’re calling on us for bees from far away and they cannot get bees. It has never been like that.”
Roy Allemann, president of the Golden Horseshoe Beekeepers’ Association of Greater Hamilton, Brant, and Halton Regions said agrees with Scott about the bee die-off. His losses were massive as well. “We’ve got another problem of really catastrophic proportions … We are looking at now a rather drastic combination of industries that are very, very common in Canada, and they are fungicides combining with insecticides.”
Allemann believes “an over-reliance on agricultural chemicals” is a significant contributor to an increase in bee deaths, especially in the last 10 years.