Stop creating friction over neonicotinoids

Since the announcement of Ontario’s new pesticide regulations, Ontario beekeepers have been the object of a misinformation campaign from the agricultural chemical industry and their proxies.

The Grain Farmers of Ontario, in a letter to members, threatened to use pesticides more harmful to bees and encouraged farmers to seek legal advice before allowing beekeepers to place their hives on their land.

For many years, and in some cases generations, farmers and their local beekeepers have been good neighbours. Beekeepers place their hives on farmland and the farmer is usually rewarded with a good supply of honey in return for his hospitality.

There is no good reason to allow the pesticide lobby to create friction between farmers and beekeepers.

Those industries and their proxy farm groups that have profited from the overuse of neonicotinoids may have forgotten that beekeepers are farmers too.

While Health Canada connected neonicotinoid treatments on corn and soybeans to bee kills, beekeepers didn’t need government to tell them something bad was happening to their livestock.

Since neonics have been widely used on corn and soybeans, we’ve had to deal with the cost of failing queens, low honey production and too many dead or dwindling hives in the spring, when our hives should be building up in preparation for pollinating fruits and vegetables.


Ontario’s bees have been victims of a situation where farmers are sold pesticide treated seed when they don’t even need it. Today, nearly all corn and 65 percent of the soybeans grown in Ontario are planted with neonicotinoid treated seeds.

According to crop specialists, at least half and maybe as much as 80 percent of these seed treatments offer no benefit to farmers, yet pesticide companies are happy to reap the profits and deny that bees are dying.

All farmers want to be good environmental stewards. Many have done a good job in reducing the spread of toxic dust at planting time. But this dust represents only two percent of the toxicity of the pesticide on treated seeds.

We hope farmers will now return to using pesticides only when they need them. Complying with the new regulations means the adoption of integrated pest management, including surveillance and crop rotation.

We all benefit when we take action to protect bees. IPM is a small price to pay when we consider that our food supply depends on a healthy pollinator population.

Last winter, Ontario beekeepers lost 38 percent of their hives, three times that of other provinces. We’ve had to spend too much time and money building colony numbers back up to meet the demand for pollination services. We urgently need relief from the overuse of systemic pesticides on 4.2 million acres of corn and soy.


We support Ontario’s goal of reducing the acreage of neonicotinoid treated seeds by 80 percent by 2017. If we can get there, we will have room to once again keep bees in southern Ontario where farmers and beekeepers have worked side by side for years.

We believe this is a reasonable position that respects the interests of both beekeepers and grain farmers.

Beekeepers don’t object to the wise use of pesticides. We use them to control mites in our hives. We do, however, object to the overuse of pesticides.

Despite claims to the contrary, no beekeeper wants to be at odds with his neighbour. There’s enough work making a living for beekeepers and farmers. Let’s move past the rhetoric and back to doing what we love to do.

Tibor Szabo is president of the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association.


  • … There is absolutely NO POINT in publicly debating with non-expert bee conspiracy fanatics … Their cacophony of illegitimate mock-outrage is designed to coerce, intimidate, and terrorize the public into believing that neonicotinoid insecticides somehow need to be prohibited. …

    Let us NOT forget that Szabo operates Ontario Bee-Keepers’ Association ( OBA ) as an anti-pesticide & environmental organization which is renegade, destructive, reckless, and subversive. Its mandate is to conspire to impose reckless and arbitrary prohibition against pest control products used in the agriculture industry. This will inflict DESTRUCTION against this industry ! Prohibition is demanded by Szabo’s OBA under the false pretext that the principal problem leading to so-called bee colony collapse disorder is neonicotinoid insecticides. This is FALSE ! … Szabo’s OBA is NOT a science organization. Szabo’s OBA is NOT a research organization. NO ONE at OBA, including Szabo, has ANY recognized training, background, or expertise in matters concerning neonicotinoid insecticides. … Moreover, Szabo’s OBA operates as a mere propaganda shield for Sierra Club of Canada ― an alliance with a mindless environmental group. Sierra Club may be mindless, deceiving, and sickening, and yet, it is firmly in control of OBA as long as Szabo is in charge. Under Sierra’s control, Szabo’s OBA mis-represent the existing facts, and hence gleefully avoiding sound science in order to promote reckless and arbitrary prohibition. Prohibition against neonicotinoid insecticides is somehow necessary. Nonetheless, ANY prohibition will NOT save bees.

    … Overall, there is NO bee crisis in Ontario because of insecticides, and ANY prohibition is NOT necessary ! The alleged losses of bees are, in fact, the fault of the bee-keepers and their mis-management practices. THEY are responsible, and NOT neonicotinoid insecticides. Some bee-keepers have NO IDEA what they are doing, leading some observers to conclude that bee-keepers may NOT be competent to raise bees. Why are only a VERY LIMITED NUMBER of bee-keepers affected ?!?! And why are the vast majority of complaints originating from Ontario ?!?! Are bee-keepers merely seeking UNJUSTIFIABLE GOVERNMENT COMPENSATION ?!?!

    Why is the bee-keeper industry THRIVING everywhere else ?!?! In fact, the Canadian Honeybee Industry is actually THRIVING, with the total number of bee-keepers in Canada actually RISING DRAMATICALLY since 2008. Why is CANADA’S HONEY YIELD TWICE THE WORLD’S AVERAGE ?!?!

    Szabo alleges that he DOES NOT want « to be at odds with his neighbours » in the agriculture industry, and yet, he has, repeatedly, precipitated actions that will lead to the DESTRUCTION of the agriculture industry. …

    We are the National Organization Responding Against HUJE that conspire to destroy the Green space and other industries ( NORAH G ). As a non-profit and independent organization, we are environmentalists who are dedicated to reporting about NON-EXPERT PESTICIDE-HATING FANATICS, as well as the work of RESPECTED and HIGHLY RATED EXPERTS who promote ENVIRONMENTAL REALISM and PESTICIDE TRUTHS. Get the latest details at WILLIAM H GATHERCOLE AND NORAH G

    • ed

      These things along with GMO’s are getting banned in nations around the world. If you can’t drink it or eat it directly, we shouldn’t be using it. 77% or Seven of Nine people agree with that and they are probably not all lunatics.

  • Martin Geleynse

    William, do you represent a science organization? what research have you done on this? any field research on chemicals, or interviews with bee-keepers? You sound like a “flat-earther”. The reality of the issues bee-keepers in Ontario are facing cannot be denied — they are a matter or record. Tibor Szabo’s article is factual, measured and looks for solutions that respect the unmistakable reality.