The bees are allright! Stop worrying about them and start worrying about the science

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bee-on-the-flower-567107-mThe bees are ok-- that s the message Terence Corcoran hammers home in his latest article for the Financial Post. The piece comes on the heels of Canada s Minister of the Environment, Glen Murray, announcing that the country will start doing more for the declining bee populations. However, as Corcoran explains exhaustively with data, this policy is not only unnecessary but may be harmful to the country s economy.

The article points out that Murray s plan for Canada includes an 80 percent reduction in the use of a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids: these pesticides are relatively recent in their development and are perceived of as safer by farmers and most scientists, as compared with older pesticides. There is little evidence that they are harming bees. But there is a lot of evidence that bee populations in Canada are not only surviving, they are flourishing. Corcoran makes reference to data presented by Canadian federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz on the state of bees in Canada:

The country s total number of bee colonies has increased by 136,000 since 2008. Canadian beekeepers are producing almost 26,000 more pounds of honey than five years ago. Honey farm cash receipts have increased by $65,000 per farm since 2008, and in 2012, beekeepers produced 90 million pounds of honey worth $173 million, so those are some pretty good stats.

This isn t to say we shouldn t be discussing policies for bee populations and pollinator health in general, but as he states (and so have we) the policies we enact to help these organisms need to be based in science. He makes special note of the recent White House report which echoes a similar sentiment: we need more science and data before we can start making policy.

Corcoran is upset that this isn t the prevailing mindset in Canada; rather, the officials there are kowtowing to the urges of activist groups like the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense Canada. Groups that see the phrase possible correlation in the literature about bees and pesticides and immediately conflate it with definitely killing.

Making policy for the sake of making policy ends up hurting someone, and this case that someone is the farmers. As Corcoran concludes: So there s a lot of buzz around bees and pollinator policy, but the good news is that, above it all, the bees are okay. It s Ontario s farmers who be stung, now and in the future under Glen Murray s anti-pesticide regime.