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It’s well understood that honey bee health is complex and honey bees face pressures from a number of factors throughout the year including: pests and parasites like the Varroa mite, harsh weather, disease from bacteria and viruses, a lack of nutritious food sources and potential exposure to pesticides.

Fortunately, according to the 2016 stats from Statistics Canada, honey bee colony numbers continue to increase and are in fact at an all-time high. There were over 750,000 honey bee colonies in Canada and close to 10,000 beekeepers at the end of 2016.

Bees and pesticides are integral and complementary components of sustainable agriculture, which is why it’s positive to see these numbers increasing. Our industry is proud to be playing a key role in ensuring both beekeeping and agriculture continue to co-exist and thrive.

In 2016, CropLife Canada partnered with the Canadian Honey Council to bring BeeConnected to Canada.

BeeConnected is an app that anonymously connects registered farmers, beekeepers and pesticide applicators – free of charge – to share information on any pesticide application activity or beehive locations near them, all through the use of a web browser, iPhone or Android device.

We learned of this tool from our sister organization, CropLife Australia, and are pleased to offer it to farmers, beekeepers and pesticide applicators in Canada at no cost.

BeeConnected is just one example that demonstrates the high level of interest that exists to support honey bees in Canada and to help protect them from inadvertent exposure to agricultural pesticides.

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s recent update on Canadian bee incident reports shows they’re having a positive impact.

Here are a few highlights:

  • The number of beekeepers reporting incidents potentially associated with a pesticide spray application in Canada have been cut in half – there were seven in 2016 and 14 in 2012.
  • The number of bee yards with reported incidents potentially associated with corn and soybean planting have decreased by 75 per cent from 2013.
  • The number of beekeepers reporting incidents, and the severity, potentially associated with corn and soybean planting are down – there were 37 in 2016 and 89 in 2013.

The goal of a tool like BeeConnected is to further help by improving communication between farmers and beekeepers about agricultural activity or hive locations with their neighbours.

To learn more about how the app works, head to beeconnected.ca.

Pierre Petelle, acting president, CropLife Canada