If Bees Are An Indicator Species

By Roy L Hales

During the course of an interview with Gwen Barlee, of the Wilderness Committee, I asked if bees are an indicator species.

This transformed what started out as a conversation about the Canadian Standing Senate Committee’s findings on bees and bee health into a wider discussion. If bees are an indicator species, then the massive bee die-offs are another indication of what we are doing to our planet.

If Bees Are An Indicator Species

Over the past 20 years, bees and wild pollinators in Canada and across the globe have undergone dramatic die-offs and population declines. Although disease, habitat loss, climate change and parasites have all played a role in the decline, it is a class of deadly pesticides called neonicotinoids (neonics) that has emerged as a key concern for scientists.

A Lot Has Happened …

The European Union imposed a two year ban on Neonicotinoids. In Canada, we are merely studying them.

In the Wilderness Committee press release that inspired me to interview Gwen, it said:

Over the last year, a lot has happened to safeguard our bees from dangerous neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides.

  • Ontario is developing regulations to reduce neonic use by 80 per cent on soybean and corn seeds.
  • Just last week, Montreal banned the use of neonics.
  • Major retailers such as Home Depot, RONA and Home Hardware have pledged to label and/or phase out neonics from the ornamental plants they sell.
  • The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry just released their report on improving bee health and they red-flagged the use of neonics and called for the federal government to improve pollinator habitat and better monitor bee health.
  • The Vancouver Park Board has refused to buy any ornamental plants treated with neonics.

The momentum to ban bee-killing neonics in Canada is gaining steam because people like you care and have taken action!

Photo Credit: Several species of plants and insects thrive on the land of the Pacific Northwest from US Department of Energy via Flicker (in Public Domain)

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