Protection of Pollinators on Prince Edward Island Including Protection of Honeybees and Bumblebees from Infestation by Small Hive Beetle

The Motion:

Sponsored by: Stan Sandler, Trudy White, Amy MacPherson, Liz Dacombe and Adam Sandler.

See the full motion, including supporting evidence, here.

 

Whereas  honey bees, bumblebees and other wild bees are important pollinators providing ecological and economic services (pollination)  that benefit all residents of PEI, human and non-human;

Whereas the health and well-being of honey bees, bumblebees and other wild bees worldwide is increasingly threatened by many factors including habitat loss, climate change,  pesticides, and the spread of disease, invasive parasites and pests;

Whereas the Small Hive Beetle (SHB) is one such parasite /pest that can have major impacts on both honey bee and bumblebee colonies.   Globally it is spreading rapidly, and international SHB researchers are calling for urgent actions to prevent / slow its further spread;

Whereas Small Hive Beetles are also now known to contribute to the spread of other serious diseases of honeybees including  American Foulbrood (AFB). Further research is needed to determine if SHB may also spread diseases of other bee species; 

Whereas PEI is preparing  to allow the importation of hives from areas infected with Small Hive Beetle, this spring,  using an Importation Protocol which ignores beekeepers concerns and scientific evidence of the high risk that SHB will be introduced onto the Island.  This importation is being enabled in order to meet the blueberry industry's demand for more pollinators to increase blueberry yields, regardless of the high risk or  future negative impacts on honey bees, bumblebees or other wild bee species.

 

Therefore be it resolved that the Green Party of PEI puts the health of our wild pollinators and our honey bees ahead of short term economic considerations, and supports a ban on on the importation of honey bees into Prince Edward Island from areas of Canada that are positive for small hive beetle, and make it illegal to move bumblebee colonies from infected areas into Prince Edward Island.

Background:

Small Hive Beetle (SHB) is a major pest  of honey bees. Since 1996, it has spread from sub-Saharan Africa to all continents except Antarctica.   Preventing its spread is very difficult because small hive beetles are extremely hard to detect in hives until they are well established.  SHB has adapted quickly to overwintering in colder climates and now also infests the colonies of bumblebees and other social bees. Some new research indicates they may also infest solitary leafcutter bee nests.

The blueberry industry on PEI has expanded significantly in recent years.  It now typically imports colonies of honey bees and bumblebees because there are not enough local honey bee colonies or wild bees to meet their pollination requirements.  (Note: some blueberry farmers do not use rented hives relying instead on localized healthy populations of native pollinators.) In the past, hives have usually been imported from Nova Scotia or from SHB free areas of Ontario.   However, since March 2019, Ontario has lifted its internal quarantines for SHB infected hives, so all of Ontario must now be considered a SHB positive area. There is no safe way to import colonies from a SHB positive area. Any importation, particularly in the early spring , must be considered  high risk because SHB are extremely difficult to detect, especially in the early stages of infestation. 

Despite repeated attempts  by beekeepers on Prince Edward Island, to be consulted and have their objections and suggestions heard,  the Minister of Agriculture and Land has announced it plans to allow the importation of hives from Ontario this year.  Last year the province also allowed bumblebee colonies that had been exposed to SHB in New Brunswick to come to PEI.

The short term objective of this motion is to protect Island honeybees, bumblebees, and possibly other wild bees from Small Hive Beetles due to the high risk importation of honey bee and bumblebee colonies from SHB positive areas this year.  This can only be achieved by closing PEI's border to those areas according to the scientific evidence on preventing SHB spread. 

The mid term goal is to increase public and stakeholders' awareness through education about the SHB threat, so that stakeholders  begin working together to seek and promote pollination solutions that are ecologically responsible and sustainable.

The long term vision of this motion is of an Island that protects all pollinators, by supporting small-scale local beekeeping and promoting more pollinator conservation programs for native species.  An important part of this will be our transition to ecologically sustainable agricultural practices that promote biodiversity instead of monocultures.