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2012-09-19 at 15:48

Parasite destroying bee populations across North America arrive

By Jeff Labine,
ENERGY 103 104Play Minute to Win it at 7:20 weekdays mornings with Kaile Jaggard and WIN! on your station for 80’s 90’s and Now…Energy 103 104 Click Here!

THUNDER BAY –  Honeybees in this region might have a big problem with a small parasite.

The city was once one of the only places in North America that didn’t have the parasitic mite Varroa Destructor, which targets bees and has been destroying the insect’s population worldwide.

Local beekeepers were proud of this accomplishment, but concerns were raised to Ontario’s Agricultural Minister Ted McMeekin when he visited in July to set up quarantines for bees in order to further protect them from mites.

There’s about 500 colonies in the Thunder Bay area and beekeepers were able to keep the infestation out for more than two decades. But reports came in Saturday that the colony-destroying mite has made its way into the city.

Story continues after video ...


Thunder Bay Beekeepers Association President Barry Tabor said he has no idea how the mite infestation came here, and he added that he’s extremely concerned about this news.

“Unfortunately you’ll never get it out of the hives,” Tabor said. “We’re trying to find out how far it has spread. Right now it looks like it’s a small area, however, we need more testing to see if it has spread.

“This is a battle that if we all band together we can hopefully win. If we do, that’s precedence setting because it’s never been done before.”

The mite, which is smaller than the tip of a matchstick, was first reported in Canada in 1989 and soon spread across the country by 2002. According to the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists 2009 report, beekeepers across the country lost 33.9 per cent of their bee colonies.

There are chemicals available to help deal with the mites, but they can build immunity to it.

“The mites are very persistent,” he said. “The industry has been working for 25 years to find a solution but they don’t feel like it’s going to happen. They’re breeding the bees to cohabitate with these mites.”

He’s not sure how his bees will do if they are infected. They have been bred to withstand the infestation but only time will tell if they are able to survive the winter.

Tabor stressed that it’s important that beekeepers register so they know how many colonies are in the area.

Dawn Luomala started beekeeping only a year ago because she wanted more flowers on her property. She said she was sad to hear the mite had made its way to Thunder Bay.

“The area was Varroa free for forever,” Luomala said. “Now that we know that the Varroa are here, we have to take every effort not only to extract them completely but then control. The bees are very vulnerable. It puts them at risk for other diseases. The more we can control the more we can do for them.”

Ministry of Agriculture spokesman Paul Kozak told Thunder Bay Television that so far they have detected mites at eight locations out of 100 across the city. He said there's no quarantine order and they're still trying to figure out the distribution of the mites, and will work with the beekeepers to determine their options.


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wayne says:
bees are the most prolific pollinators on the planet. if bee populations diminish drastically from disease, mites, etc., majority of agriculture will diminish as well.
9/19/2012 4:45:16 PM
unheard says:
that is monsanto's plan then all crops will be GMO
9/19/2012 5:29:34 PM
ranma says:
Without bees, we will die as a species. PERIOD.
9/19/2012 5:31:16 PM
Murray Copperbottom says:
A life without honey for my tea is a life not worth living. Come back bees, come back!
9/20/2012 10:40:02 AM
northerngirl75 says:
It needs to be stressed that any and all beekeepers in the Thunder Bay Area, who are not currently registered with OMAFRA or members of the Thunder Bay Beekeepers Association, need to come forward and let the Thunder Bay Beekeepers Association know that you are keeping bees in the area. The infestation in Thunder Bay appears to be fairly new, localized and at low levels. We have a unique opportunity to possibly stop the mites before they become too widespread. The only way this can happen is to have 100% awareness of the situation among local beekeepers and 100% involvement from local beekeepers in the plan going forward.

The varroa mite has the potential to cause a serious decline in the bee population in Thunder Bay. As mentioned above - bees are prolific pollinators - responsible for the success of most of our localy grown crops. Anyone who lives here should be concerned. Please spread the word.
9/19/2012 5:46:14 PM
chbaker says:
...Wasn't that long ago people in the know said bees were mysteriously dying. (google it for old news stories)
Finally the word seemed to be cell phones were causing it.

Then the problem seemed to go away, as nobody has talked about it in the press.

I wondered how humanity would react if something they loved dearly(cell phones), was causing something the entire ecosystem of the Earth depended on (bees) to die?

Inventing a mite to displace corporate accountability/responsibility was not a solution I had thought of.

Well played.
9/19/2012 5:55:49 PM
mikevirtanen1961 says:
The studies on radiation required an unreasonably high level-- essentially, they needed to put a cellphone right inside the hive to show a problem. In the real world, it is not expected to cause significant bee loss.

What really is an issue is the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. They have been shown to build up in honeycomb and cause neurotoxic effects- bees leave the hive and become too impaired to return. Combined with other stressors such as the mite and increasing fungal and viral loads, you get a synergistic effect that leads to colony collapse.
9/20/2012 10:19:43 AM
woodzee says:
Not with a diet of Potatoes and Beef
9/19/2012 9:55:53 PM
hopper says:
What? Do you think because potatoes grow underground they don't need to be pollinated? And what do you think cows eat?

I believe most beekeepers are responsible and have known about this danger for some time.
9/20/2012 8:26:38 AM
unionbay880 says:
Told you we should't have built those windmills on the Norwesters! Oh wait, I can't blame that for a few years.
9/20/2012 11:27:42 AM
psmith says:
The local beekeepers have only themselves to blame. Sadly, a lot of agricultural producers (and consumers of local food) will be paying the price too.

There was a push on to establish a local quarantize zone to prevent the importation of outside bees and mites into the area. There is even a petition on it by the MP Bruce Hyer:

But some local beekeepers opposed it so the push never went very far. They could have had a sweet quarantine zone to protect their colonies, but now they reap a bitter harvest instead.
9/20/2012 1:34:43 PM
CJ says:
Too much un-intelligent and un-educated comments here to even start. Hahaha.
9/21/2012 12:16:28 PM
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