Bee Health Roundtable Launches National Action Plan

(Debra Murphy/RealAgriculture)

The National Bee Health Roundtable (BHRT) recently held its third workshop in Ottawa. The roundtable, a coalition of stakeholders with a direct interest in the health of bees, reports making clear progress over the last year evidenced by the release of the National Bee Health Action Plan.

“The collaborative approach of the roundtable, which brings together a wide array of stakeholders, regulators and experts, has proven to be an invaluable tool in the examination and protection of bee health,” said Rod Scarlett, co-chair of the BHRT and executive director of the Canadian Honey Council. “We are able to draw upon the expertise of members from across Canada and develop a viable national framework for the protection of bees.”

The National Bee Health Action Plan identifies priority issues, fosters collaborative and innovative activities that help maintain a healthy honeybee population in Canada, and supports a competitive Canadian apicultural industry. The BHRT heard about achievements in three priority areas: reduction of Varroa Mites; the development of Best Management Practices (BMPs); and pesticide risk mitigation.

1) Minor Use:

BHRT initiatives have worked towards securing two more options within beekeepers tool boxes to support their fight against two deadly pests; Varroa mites and American foulbrood. The BHRT in cooperation with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Health Canada have successfully ensured that bee health products HopGuard and Lincomycin are considered a departmental priority for purposes of the Minor Use Program and piloting under the Minor Use Minor Species for veterinary drugs. Both products provide beekeepers with additional Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tools and play a large role in the BHRT’s long-term efforts in addressing the broader issue of honey bee health.

2) Reduction of Pesticide Exposure:

Reducing pesticide exposure has been identified as a potential factor that could affect bee health. A dedicated working group has designed a work plan that will examine the existing tools and approaches available to reduce potential exposures of bees to all pesticides, including those used by beekeepers to control in-hive pests. The working group will then identify any gaps and develop solutions in order to ensure that beekeepers and growers have access to the most effective tools and knowledge necessary to reduce pesticide exposure.

3) Best Management Practices:

Funding has been procured and work is underway to review all Beekeeper Best Management Practices (BMP) Canada-wide. The goal will be to create a new national set of BMPs. These BMPs will be national in scope but take into account regional differences in weather, habitat and whether the bees are kept for pollination services, honey production or both.

For more about the National Bee Health Roundtable, follow this link.

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