Thoughtful words on bees — Readers’ comments

A recent Robert Arnason story examined why the Manitoba Beekeepers’ Association continues to lobby for an exemption from the ban on importing American bees to Canada.

The story, titled Manitoba apiarists want end to bee import ban, was published in the March 19 edition of the paper, but it wasn’t until this week that a comment was submitted, which I thought added useful information to the story.

A reader identifying himself as Jeff Lee writes:

“Unfortunately, this story fails to mention that the federal government, after a significant risk assessment, concluded that the border should remain closed to package imports from the U.S. for four reasons. It didn’t ‘deny’ Manitoba’s request. It considered the entire Canadian bee industry in its assessment…

“The second thing that needs to be said is that beekeepers in British Columbia aren’t ‘hesitant.’ Through the B.C. Honey Producers Association, they have repeatedly voted to support the federal government’s closure of the border to package bees from the U.S., for sound reasons. They have also conveyed that position to the Canadian Honey Council numerous times. There is no hesitancy on that point. This is not a matter of small beekeepers versus big ones. There are legitimate concerns here about the impact of opening the border to U.S. packages.

“No one here likes the fact we have to pay $180 or more per package to get bees from New Zealand, but there is also no guarantee that American package suppliers would be any cheaper. They already have significant domestic demand.

“One only has to look at the current situation of queen supply. Right now, you can’t get queens from the U.S. for love or money. The normal California supply has dried up as suppliers look to domestic demand. Imports from Hawaii are delayed. It is difficult to even source decent numbers of queens from New Zealand and Australia. Part of this is because CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) had consolidated its offices into one office back east for the purposes of approving livestock imports. Deadlines were missed and for those of us who need bees to meet the early pollination deadlines, the result is unsatisfactory.

“However, British Columbia beekeepers are very much sympathetic to the concerns of prairie beekeepers. We understand the difficulty they face and would like to work collaboratively towards a solution. But opening the door to one province while keeping it closed to others isn’t a useful solution. B.C., for example, plays winter host to a lot of prairie colonies, primarily from Alberta. There are jurisdictional and practical matters that need to be considered.”

The On the Farm article in the April 2 edition of The Producer, titled Ontario farmer carves niche business in mink, describes an Ontario mink farm that sells largely to Chinese customers. A few readers were offended by the mink fur industry.

One such reader who identifies themselves as Animal Lover had this to say about the article:

“The Dutch senate has it right: it is immoral to keep animals in small cages for an unnecessary luxury product. Millions of animals will suffer and die before the Chinese understand that the only status a fur coat gives them is the distinction of being backwards, imitative and cruel, culturally unimaginative, and at odds with the rest of the world.”

A commentator identifying himself as Terry Vourantonis responded to the Animal Lover comment with this:

The Dutch government authorizes the killing of multitudes of muskrat to protect their dikes, but if you wear a muskrat hat you are a murderer. What a shameful waste and a total hypocrisy. Animal lovers we all are, only some are illogical.”

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robin.booker@producer.com

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