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You were asking about...pollinators, bee health, and pesticides?
There were 772,652 colonies of honeybees in 2016 – a 37.7 per cent increase from 2011. 84
Donna Rogers
Data from Statistics Canada show that the number of farmed bee hives is on the rise in Canada.83 But for the last several years, higher than normal bee deaths have been reported in some parts of the country, as well as in Europe and the United States.
Experts from around the world are examining the many factors that can impact bee colony health and mortality. For example, beekeepers lose some
of their bees each winter due to cold temperatures, inadequate nutrition, and winter’s duration. Another key factor in recent years has been a parasitic mite called Varroa destructor, which has been devastating to Canadian bee colonies.
A lot of attention has been focused on neonicotinoids – neonics for short. Neonics are a class of insecticides designed to protect against certain harmful bugs, and are used on crops like corn, soybeans and canola, as well as in pet  ea collars and home garden products.
Courtesy of Ontario Apple Growers Robyn McCallum
In crop farming, neonics are most often applied directly to seeds. Farmers then
plant those seeds. This approach means that neonics can be used to protect crops without having to spray them on  elds, in turn helping to reduce the risk of exposure to helpful bugs, such as bees. To further reduce this type of exposure risk, farmers have adopted improved on-farm practices:
• Using an improved  uency agent (lubricant) at planting to help move seeds through planters, reducing the risk of dust drifting outside a  eld.
• Installing dust shields on planters to keep the spread of dust contained.
• Taking precautions when handling treated seeds to avoid generating dust to begin with.
• Monitoring weather before planting treated seeds, to avoid dry, windy conditions.
• Planting cover crops with  owering species provides bees and other pollinators natural food sources.
• Maintaining communications with neighbouring beekeepers.
Pro le
Lee Townsend
Lee Townsend is a commercial beekeeper in Parkland County, Alberta, where he and his father have 3,300 colonies for honey production. He’s been working with bees since age 10, but it wasn’t until he was older that he started to love beekeeping – enough to do it for a living. Today, they’re leaders in the Canadian honeybee industry and export all of their honey to Asia.
“We have always taken the attitude that you have to put back into the farm what you want to get out of it. That not only includes the work involved to be successful, but we’ve also invested a lot of
money into our farm to make sure it is the best it can be,” says Lee.
The Real Dirt on Farming 51
Lee Townsend

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