KAMLOOPS — Down the street from where we live on the way to the trails there is a sign that says ‘Honey for sale’. I like that. We always buy local honey. We use beeswax candles only and I use propolis to make tincture and propolis-infused calendula ointment using our garden grown flowers and beeswax. There’s a lot of bee stuff in our family life for sure, save for beekeeping, which we might take to in the future.
That so many of us still hesitate when it comes to differentiating bees from wasps is upsetting and worrying. Learning about bees and their role in our life as we know it should be a topic that children come to know early on and adults never forget.
Our lives are so intertwined with those of bees and we are so utterly dependent on them that keeping them alive and thriving makes all the sense. Which is why the recent review of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid by Health Canada and the proposal to ban it is utterly delightful news.
Neonicotinoids are used as insecticides on many crops such as grain and oil-seed crops. They are sprayed on Christmas trees and ornamental plants, and used on lawns against the chaffer beetle. You may be familiar with it as it is often used as a topical insecticide for flea infestations in pets.
Imidacloprid and other neonicotinoids act by blocking the transmission of signals between nervous cells in insects. Trouble is, the beneficial insects such as bees, and other soil critters are affected when the chemical is used. Imidacloprid is likely the most widely used insecticide nowadays, thus the review initiated by Health Canada.
The neonicotinoid and bee death debate has been active for a long time. There have been petitions to ban the chemicals produced by the chemical giant Bayer, and several municipalities have banned this class of pesticides due to their ill effects on insects and wildlife.
Countless reviews and studies have come to the same conclusion: bees (other insects too) are affected by neonicotinoids. Enter Health Canada’s latest review and ban proposal which will be followed by more reviews on other neonicotinoids.
The big circle of life has immutable laws. If bugs are not well or, worse yet, dead, so will be the critters consuming them such as birds and many crops can be left unpollinated or exposed to other pests. Because of agricultural runoff, water can be contaminated with the said chemical, often in concentrations 290 times higher than the levels considered dangerous to wildlife and insects, according to the review conducted by Health Canada.
The proposal to ban imidacloprid by Health Canada is a daring one. As it is often the case with things pertaining to the big picture, many of us are unable or unwilling to see the trouble until it’s staring us in the face. This proposal brings hope that we will not get there anytime soon.
In this case, a governmental organization has got our back. Yes, I just said that and it’s not what you hear me say often. Well, here’s to hoping that the good people at Health Canada who got this ball rolling will keep it rolling. For the bees, for the environment and for our health.
And while we’re waiting to see it done, here’s but a few reasons why bees are so darn amazing:
• Because they visit up to one million flowers for a pound of honey
• Because they can do the waggle dance to ‘tell’ where the sweet nectar is with the kind of precision that humans and their GPS systems have yet to attain. The information includes the angle of the sun, too.
• Because their hives are built of perfect little hexagons with perfect 120° angles so that the most amount of honey can be stored using the least amount of material
• Because they have figured out how to slow down aging (tip: engaging in social activities)
• Because due to their pollinating efforts we have much higher yielding crops and higher quality produce
• Because we depend on them for colourful meals and overall good health.
Now you tell me, are they worth safeguarding or what?
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