To bee or not to bee …

Pollinator crisis subsides, but hives not out of the woods yet

  • Sep. 14, 2012 5:00 p.m.

The hives are healthy at Nanoose Edibles Farm in Nanoose Bay

The worst of the crisis in Island apiaries appears to be over for now, but beekeepers aren’t relaxing their guard.

That’s probably a good thing, because as Sol Novitz pointed out at a special pollinators picnic at Nanoose Edibles farm in Nanoose Bay Sunday, there is no shortage of threats just itching to get into the hives.

“There’s always something trying to wipe you out,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s amazing we end up with anything. It’s a big challenge.”

Novitz said the Central Island has recently become home to European fire ants which, from personal experience, he knows can deliver a sting akin to a hornet’s. As well, wood ants love nothing better than to invade a hive and take out one juicy larvae after another. Similarly, wasps have a taste for honey bees and are not shy about harvesting them. Insecticides also pose a problem, with bees succumbing just as readily to the products as the other insects it’s targeting.

The biggest  problem however, is the veroa mite, a parasitic creature that feeds on bee larvae while they’re still developing, resulting in a dramatically less healthy hive, with a resulting crash in population — to the point where an entire hive can be wiped out.

“This was the first decent crop we’ve had in six years,” he said. “The devastation with the mites began in a big way in 2006-07 and that was compounded by a very bad summer for bees — probably the worst on record. The next year wasn’t bad, but nobody had any bees to take advantage of it. Then we had the huge loss in 2009-2010, when 90 to 95 per cent of the bees on the Island were totally obliterated.”

With new miticides and protocols in place, the bees, at least in his Nanaimo apiary, are recovering, but he’s not letting his guard down.


Just Posted

Woodyatt seeks help to pursue physics education in London

Kwalikum Secondary product gets accepted to prestigious university in United Kingdom

Nanoose Bay Catspan receives BC SPCA funding

Spay/neuter grant to address overpopulation

Solar system spending, asbestos removal in SD69 plan

Green house gas emission report received at May 22 board meeting

Gr. 7s learn about digital safety, health, consent at con in Parksville

SD69 hosts first Health and Wellness Conference for students headed to high school

Qualicum Beach east village plans take shape

Staff moving forward with east village concept

VIDEO: Meet some of the Vancouver Island Tribute Festival performers

The NEWS speaks with Elvis, Liberace tribute artists and others before they go on parade

Passersby help rescue occupants of home as fire breaks out in Courtenay

Coffee run turns into fire rescue for pair of men

Giant beer tanks arrive in new B.C. home city

Molson Coors tanks finish river journey and move to overland trip in Chilliwack

VIDEO: Pipeline supporters rally across B.C.

Five simultaneous events organized by month-old Suits and Boots lobby group

VIDEO: B.C. woman praises burn fund after boat explosion in 1978

White Rock woman was 16 years old when she was left with second- and third-degree burns

B.C.’s Ryan Craig, Vegas Golden Knights chase history

Local product behind bench for expansion team’s incredible championship run

CP rail workers give strike notice

Employees could walk out as early as Tuesday at 7 p.m. PT

RCMP investigating after gunshots fired in Courtenay

Comox Valley RCMP officers are investigating after gunshots rang out in Courtenay… Continue reading

Vancouver Island wife brings husband back to life with CPR, thanks to 911 dispatcher

‘The dispatcher literally taught me CPR over the phone’

Most Read