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Ontario's beekeepers launch a campaign against pesticide use

Beekeepers are calling for ban on neonicotinoids, which have been restricted in Europe but are widely used in North America

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Dan Davidson is the president of the Ontario Beekeepers Association, which is fighting to ban the pre-treatment of agricultural seed that the organization says is adversely affecting the bee population. His 1,700 colonies of bees produce 150,000 pounds of honey on average annually.

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Bees play a critical role in that one-third of the food we eat requires pollination and 80 per cent of that is now being done by honey bees because they can be managed.

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Dan Davidson says his bees are dying in greater numbers, and in different ways. Winter deaths are rising – he lost a third of his this year – and bees are dying at the hive or in the field after being exposed to toxic crop pesticides in airborne dust and water.

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Beekeepers are calling for ban on neonicotinoids, which have been restricted in Europe but are widely used in North America. Beekeepers say the pesticides that are present in all parts of the plant – including the pollen – is contributing to double-digit declines in bee numbers since their adoption in the late 2000s.

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In early June, Dan Davidson saw a mass of bees twitching on the ground outside the hive on a dairy farmer’s field in southwestern Ontario. Ants were carrying some away. Others were crawling into the long grass. Of the 28 hives, 10 had numerous dead or dying bees.

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