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Canadian Beekeepers

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BC Canadian Beekeepers

August 2010 we visited Vancouver Island to meet up with fellow beekeepers - to share ideas and stories on what is happening in the bee community in their part of the world. President of Cowichan Bee Association, George Field and wife, Delphine, were gracious enough to take the time. We met at Shawnigan Steeples Restaurant for dinner and a chat.

From an email: "this is the busy season, many of the beekeepers are moving, splitting or chasing their bees at this time of year. Here on the island there is a big controversy at this time over the movement of bees on and off of Vancouver Island. The change in government policy has many beekeepers hopping mad. We had the Cowichan Beekeepers club meeting last Thursday evening and I read your letter out at the meeting to see of interest, the problem here is that last fall and through the winter many of the beekeepers of Vancouver Island had up to 90% bee losses. The old "Colony Collapse" situation is what they are calling it, many of the commercial beekeepers are now working very hard to get their number of hives up so as to fulfill some pollination contracts and get some honey for this year."

The Canadian government has allowed importation of bees from Chili and Argentina but no equipment (wood etc...) as the island has been 'safe' from unregulated importation; but recently all that has changed. The ban was lifted on equipment/bee importation onto the island and apparently the quarantine was not adhered to; it appears that one of the large pollinators fulfilled his pollination contracts first then brought the equipment/bees etc for quarantine - by then the 'foreign invader' had infected the entire island hence the 90% loss among the beekeepers. The sanctuary of the island is now breached and has fallen prey, like the rest of the world to the Varroa mite, American/European Foulbrood, honeycomb-eating greater wax moth, small hive beetle.

According to the SPOTLIGHT, Friday May 28,2010 issue -headline reads: Beekeepers stung by lifted quarantine
The article goes on to state... "The policy change basically lifts a 1987 honeybee importation quarantine. Commercial producer Larry Lindahl (beekeeper for 64 years), a former agricultural inspector with 180 bee colonies is stinging mad about the legislative changes made with little notice to beekeepers.....The quarantine had kept a list of honeybee pests out of Cowichan's 250 registered hives - you can double that figure for non-registered ones... What's the possible justification for a major change to the status quo without involving key stakeholders like island beekeepers? Demanded Annie Roman of the Cowichan Beekeepers Club. Beehaven Farm's Steve Mitchell saw his 20 colonies reduced to one thanks largely to last year's infestation by the Varroa mite. He too wants the quarantine reinstated to keep disease levels low among the island bees.... "

A new species of bee was found at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve - Mason-bee Cowichnius? The non-aggressive mud-nest maker is among many of the bee species found at the preserve where native numbers are thriving due to the recovering site's diverse ecology so world Mason Bee expert, Terry Griswold, and Simon Fraser University biologist Elizabeth Elle reported. " The preserve has done a great job of getting rid of invasive species... Helped by a flock of sheep nibbling the preserve's invasive plant and grass shoots, and saving its native wildflowers. Eco-diversity is boosted by bees pollinating and fertilizing all plants - including crops. ..Out of every three bites you eat is thanks to a bee."

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