Evidence of meeting #44 for Agriculture and Agri-Food in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was corn.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

3:50 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Honey Council

Rod Scarlett

The only impact I have heard of is in second-hand discussions with the president of the OBA. It only concerns one commercial beekeeper whose operation has been very good. Other than that, I have no statistical or factual evidence to make any claims.

June 4th, 2012 / 3:50 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

That would speak to what I have heard from everyone about this sense that we need some research into specifically what is happening with our bee industry and the kill rate. Of course, when we see these wild swings in temperature in the early season, what kind of impact that has on hives and bees in particular, if they come out, and then we get back into a...? We went back into a frost situation in Niagara where it went down to minus seven about 10 days later. There's an impact that has on a hive that thinks it's getting ready to start a season, and the season looks like it went back into winter.

I would ask you, Mr. Scarlett, as well as any others on the panel, what type of research would you like to see get done specifically around hives when it comes to not only this sense of whether it be CCD, or whether it be a poison from a pesticide, or indeed this climactic change where we're seeing with these wild fluctuations? Is there anything you would specifically like to see research done on that is non-binding, in the sense that it's not by a corporation who simply says, I'm doing it to make a dollar? I actually want to see research that talks about what the impacts are, and what perhaps are some solutions.

I will start with Mr. Scarlett, and perhaps work across the panel.

3:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Honey Council

Rod Scarlett

Certainly. I will not comment on the Ontario bee kill and the research involved there, because that's kind of a separate issue.

On the long-term health and mortality of bees, certainly we need to do some research on weather. As I indicated in my preamble there, this year it appears that, on the whole, bees did very well over the course of the winter. All across Canada, the winter was relatively mild, so that may have had an impact. It could be that management practices have improved enough that beekeepers have been more successful in wintering.

But weather is certainly one key area. Varroa is another one. I think we have to maintain pesticides or treatment methods to stay ahead of the curve. We now have certain treatments that are getting to the stage where we're getting resistance, and we're not having enough new compounds, whether they be organic or non-organic, coming into the mainstream for beekeepers to use in order to be successful.

So you're right; I think the research is important. We'd certainly like to see a lot more, and we'd certainly like to see a lot more that is a little bit more directed to what the beekeepers need instead of what the researchers may need.

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Mr. Bryans, I know you raised some issues about the research earlier.

3:55 p.m.

President, Munro Honey & Munro's Meadery

Davis Bryans

In terms of this issue, the bees were in excellent shape. Beekeepers were watching them. If they were hungry, they'd feed them. If they needed a pollen substitute, they'd feed them. It was a little earlier in the year, but when the dandelion season came, they were in great shape.

This is a different issue altogether. This is an insecticide poisoning. It's nothing to do with treating the bees beforehand. The bees came through the best they've ever come through. Anybody will tell you that. I have areas that didn't get hit and I have two boxes of honey sitting on them.

It just depends on whether they grew the corn or not. It's not weather-related. It's just poisoning that is causing the problem. We need to do something about it.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Larry Miller

You're out of time, Mr. Allen.

Mr. Payne, five minutes.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you to all the witnesses today.

I have a few questions for you, Mr. Scarlett. I see on your website that one of the resolutions passed at your AGM was to ask the federal government—specifically, the pest management regulations—to approve the use of Apivar for 2012.

Could you tell me how successful you were at that? And how vital is that to your industry?

3:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Honey Council

Rod Scarlett

It has been successful. I believe we're still on emergency use registration yet, but again, it is one of the tools that beekeepers need to be successful.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Okay.

I see you also asked CFIA to review their import conditions as they pertain to the small hive beetle. What was the result of that? Do you have any more rationale on that?

3:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Honey Council

Rod Scarlett

That one is a little bit more difficult. CFIA, as you are well aware, is undergoing kind of a changeover in philosophies. The small hive beetle policy, as a national strategy, has kind of been by the wayside, so to speak.

We've suggested certain things to CFIA. We've passed a resolution. We have not heard back anything as of yet. Our resolution was sent to them in mid-January.

4 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Okay.

You just heard the other panel members talking about the problem they've had with the corn. Have any of the western producers faced the same situation, do you know?

4 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Honey Council

Rod Scarlett

This year I have not heard of any. Certainly if you go on the PMRA website, the same issue was raised in Quebec last year. The case studies and the reports are on the PMRA website. They did indicate that there was a probable cause.

4 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Okay.

Have you heard anything about this particular seed being used in the U.S., and has that had any effect down there as well?

4 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Honey Council

Rod Scarlett

The seed treatment is a family of treatments, a family of insecticides that is apparently used in the States, and there is a bunch of research out there. I think the other three panel members have been impacted by this directly, and they're probably better versed in the direct effects it has had on them.

4 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Okay. Do other panel members want to comment on anything in the U.S.? Is this particular to one type of seed for corn or are there others?

Go ahead, anybody.