Beekeeper Kevin Nixon with some of his honey bees near Innisfail, Alta., on September 1, 2016. The nicotine-based pesticides scientists have linked to a rising number of honey bee deaths will be phased out of use in Canada over a three year period starting in 2021. Sources close to the decision confirmed to the Canadian Press that the Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Canada will announce publicly Wednesday it will require a three-year phase out of the use of two of the three main neonicotinoid pesticides approved for use in Canada. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Pesticides linked to bee deaths will be phased out in Canada, sources say

Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are a class of pesticides used by farmers and hobby gardeners alike

The federal government will begin phasing out the outdoor use of nicotine-based pesticides beginning in 2021, part of an effort to stem the mysterious decline of honey bee colonies around the world.

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Canada will announce Wednesday a three-year phaseout of two of the three main neonicotinoid pesticides currently approved for use in the country, sources close to the decision tell The Canadian Press.

The agency has already announced plans to phase out the third pesticide in all outdoor uses, meaning it can’t be sprayed or used to pretreat seeds before planting.

Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are a class of pesticides used by farmers and hobby gardeners alike to manage pests like aphids and spider mites. Scientists blame the chemicals for weakening bees, making them more susceptible to disease and bad weather.

Wednesday’s decision will mark the completion of nearly six years of work by the agency, and follows a similar ban by the European Union that takes effect at the end of the year.

Environmental groups say they are glad to see Canada moving ahead with a ban, but say five years is too long for the full ban to take effect.

“This is a really huge decision,” said John Bennett, a senior policy adviser at Friends of the Earth Canada.

Health Canada is breaking from what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is doing, Bennett noted — an unusual move, considering Canada and the U.S. are normally in lockstep on such decisions and the reviews in both countries were a group effort.

While the EPA has yet to fully announce its decision concerning all applications of neonics, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week lifted an existing ban that prevented their use in wildlife refuges.

Bee colony collapses began occurring in substantial numbers about 15 years ago and studies linked those deaths to mites and neonics. A task force at the International Union for Conservation of Nature last year updated a comprehensive review of more than 1,100 peer-reviewed research studies on neonicotinoids and concluded there was no doubt they harm bees.

The bees are hit by neonics when they fly through dust clouds left behind as the pesticides are sprayed, or by consuming nectar from treated plants. Their loss represents a significant issue for food sources, since about one-third of food crops require pollinators for production.

In July, the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists reported almost half of the bees in Ontario died over the winter, while across Canada about one-third of all bees perished in the unusually cold winter.

Jim Coneybeare, president of the Ontario Beekeepers Association and a beekeeper in southwestern Ontario, said a decade ago or longer, an extreme cold winter like the one in 2018 would have elevated losses but “we wouldn’t have experienced what we did.”

He said neonics are not the only thing hurting bees, but they do play a role.

“It’s a stressor,” he said.

Coneybeare said he keeps about half of his hives in areas where neonics are not in heavy use and those hives experienced only a 10 to 15 per cent loss. The hives in the areas with more neonics saw losses upwards of 65 per cent.

Beekeepers who lose more than 20 per cent of their bees must split hives and buy new queens to make new colonies — a costly step that limits honey production until colonies recover. With so many bees across North America dying, finding queens is also getting harder, beekeepers say.

The ban has been too long in coming, said Coneybeare, adding he doesn’t understand why it will take five years to be fully implemented.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Dr. Lipjob avoids jail, gets 30-day suspended sentence

She will have to serve the 30 days in prison if she commits a breach during her two-year’s probation

Surrey farmers taking stock of revamped Canada Food Guide

Products that were once big at the table — like meat and dairy — have been put on the back-burner

‘The dog picks the job’: Meet the newest member of the Surrey RCMP

Cambria, a labrador-golden retriever mix, is the first victim services dog at the detachment

Cloverdale’s Dan Gibbons remembered for his devotion, humour

Longtime local served with RCMP for more than 35 years

Surrey RCMP say men with gun steal Jeep from mom, daughter

Police say they are looking for video footage, and two South Asian suspects

Canada’s archive buys rare book that hints at Nazi plans for North America

The 1944 book may have served as a blueprint for a Nazi purge

Advocate hopes B.C. legislature scandal leads to more transparency

‘Depressing’ that it takes a scandal to inspire freedom of information reform, says Sara Neuert

Widow’s petition demands mandatory training for truckers

Truck driver Stephen Babij was killed in a head on semi truck collision on Highway 1 in 2017

Ex-Mountie involved in Taser death at Vancouver airport sues government

Kwesi Millington claims he acted in accordance with RCMP training

Richmond businesses struggle to hire and keep staff because of high cost of housing

Chamber of commerce calls for diverse housing options, redevelopment of George Massey corridor

LETTER: Seniors home care, day programs expanding, Adrian Dix says

B.C. health minister responds to latest Seniors Advocate report

B.C. woman wins Instagram celebrity’s boob job contest

‘Kirill was here’ held a contest for women to win a boob job and a trip to Miami

Most Read