Keep the bees of PEI free from small hive beetle.
This petition had 669 supporters
While around the world there is a strong awareness growing about the importance of pollinators and the need to protect and nurture them, the P.E.I. government is continuing on a path towards crippling our honeybees with more exotic diseases.
Having already gutted our Bee Health Regulations and allowed in the tracheal mite, it is now set to import another serious honeybee pest - the small hive beetle - this spring when it imports beehives for blueberry pollination from the Niagara region of Ontario.
Ontario has had small hive beetle (SHB) in the counties joining the U.S. in the Windsor area for several years now and they have been under quarantine and not allowed to move out of the area. But now SHB are in the other area next to the U.S., the Niagara region, but P.E.I. is still going to allow imports from that area, albeit with some inspection requirements.
Hives will not be permitted from any apiary location where SHB is known, but they will still be permitted from other locations from a beekeeping operation that has a positive yard, even though a SHB expert brought in by the province to talk to beekeepers about managing SHB admitted that these would be high risk hives given the normal transfer of equipment between yards in a beekeeping operation. Even within Ontario there are controls on the movement of those hives from the Niagara region but P.E.I. is going to allow them in.
The SHB expert had graphs in his presentation showing that June is the main month that the SHB larvae come out of the beehive and go into the ground to pupate and then fly and spread. June is blueberry pollination time.
Only a small amount of these hives will be inspected in Ontario for SHB, most of the inspection will be done in P.E.I. (after it may be too late).
The protocol said that if a positive hive was found it would be destroyed. After complaints this was changed to the whole pallet of beehives (which are usually touching) would be destroyed. But on the truck coming from Ontario to PEI all the beehives are almost touching and really it only makes sense to destroy the whole load.
The province replied that a load of bees was worth nearly $200,000 dollars and it couldn't do that. But, the damage to the local bees and beekeepers will be far higher than that and if the blueberry / bee operation sending bees is so unsure of being SHB free that it won't risk that, then it is too high risk.
If the only consequences of introducing SHB is destruction of a pallet of bees then it is in the best interests of the importers to get the SHB into PEI and be done with all the inspection problems which cost far more than that.
P.E.I. has already come out with a program entitled "Funding Levels for Biosecurity Measures to Minimize Impact of SHB." They sure seem to be admitting that they are not serious about keeping them out. The funding levels are only at 50% of what it will cost beekeepers to try and cope with dealing with this pest, and the amounts are capped at levels which are far less than what beekeepers are going to need to spend.
The best way to deal with small hive beetle is not to let it in to PEI, which is an island province that we can protect if we have the will. The blueberry growers are desperate for pollinators and the government has invested heavily in this sector. But if the government is going to let bees in from an infected region of Ontario, then we the people who are signing this petition ask it to amend the protocol so that if small hive beetles are found in a hive coming in for pollination then ALL the hives that came in on that truckload together and are potentially contaminated will be destroyed. This will help prevent small hive beetle from spreading, and it will make the owners of the hives vigilant in not sending hives to PEI that they are not certain are SHB free. It also won't cost the PEI government anything and will not prevent the entry of pollinators for the blueberry growers.
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