WHEREAS in 2022, honey producers across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba experienced one of the worst winter kill events in years, with some producers losing up to 90% of their hives; and
WHEREAS the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) currently prohibits the importation of bee packages from the United States, yet allows bee package imports from intercontinental apiaries, including those in South America and New Zealand; and
WHEREAS bee package imports from South America and New Zealand cost up to three times as much as bee packages sourced from the United States; and
WHEREAS since the 1980s, the CFIA has only approved two miticides for the control of Varroa Mites leading to the development of miticide-resistant mites;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) advocate to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to permit honey bee shipments from the United States for the purpose of hive repopulation, to combat the depopulation of Canada’s honey bee hives; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the RMA request that the CFIA conduct further research on Varroa Miticide controls and approve a new varroa mite miticide to address the lack of control options available to honey producers.
Since the 1980s, the Canadian border has been closed to the importation of honey bee packages. This restriction on bee imports was the result of the increasing Varroa Mite population in the United States at the time. Since then, only queen bees can be imported into Canada as they can be fully checked for mites, viruses, and other pests prior to their shipment.
Although the intention of this import restriction is to protect the Canadian bee industry from Varroa Mites, these mites are already present and established within Canada. Additionally, South America (a source that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency does permit the importation of bees from) also has a well-established Varroa Mite population. Therefore, imports from both locations should be held to the same standard.
Also, since bee packages from the United States are not permitted to be shipped into Canada, packages must be sourced from other localities in order to supplement our bee populations. Most often, these packages are shipped from New Zealand and South America. Due to this increased distance (compared to U.S. shipments), these packages can be up to three times the cost of similar bee packages sourced from the United States.
Another compounding issue with Canada’s bee populations and Varroa Mites is that there is a lack of miticide options for producers. In Canada, there are only two approved Varroa Mite miticides. Although these miticides were once effective management tools, the lack of options for producers has resulted in the development of miticide-resistant mites, resulting in populations spreading through Canada’s beehives. The need for new management tools is crucial to ensuring the longevity of Canada’s bee industry.
The bee industry is not only crucial for honey production but is important to many other aspects of agriculture as well, including helping with the pollination of our orchards, berry farms, vegetables, forages, and canola. Therefore, ensuring the stability and longevity of the bee industry not only aids our honey producers, but supports the health of Canada’s diverse agricultural industry.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.