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Seventh meeting of the Bee Health Roundtable: Record of decision

January 22, 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario

Key decision points

  • Roundtable members endorsed a Canadian Honey Council (CHC) proposal to explore development of a national pollinator strategy.
  • Members reviewed the strategic plan and committed to new and continued action to support best practices in beekeeping and crop production; habitat improvement; research partnerships; and cross-sectoral information sharing.

Introductions

  • The Co-chairs welcomed approximately 43 participants from industry and government, including beekeepers, crop producers, researchers, service providers and regulators.
  • The Government Co-chair provided members with an update on the Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table, noting that there is a strong desire to build on the table’s recommendations to create momentum for action.
  • The Industry Co-chair noted the only manufacturer/licenced seller of fumagillin has closed. As fumagillin is the only product registered to treat nosema, the CHC is exploring options to restore supply to the Canadian industry.

Recent developments and emerging issues

  • The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) provided an update on the status of the re-evaluation processes underway for the three main neonicotinoid insecticides. The final reports for the risks posed to pollinators by Imidacloprid, Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam, which were scheduled to be released in December 2018, will now be released in spring 2019. Hopguard is still being evaluated. Members individually reported on a wide range of activities related to bee health underway by their organizations.
  • Members were encouraged to attend the 46th Apimondia - International Apicultural Congress in September 2019.

Pollinator Strategy Pillar

  • The Control of Pesticides Working Group (CPWG) reviewed the key content of a report called "Practices to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Agricultural Pesticides in Canada" and discussed options for promotion.
  • The Industry Co-chair reported that the CHC had sent a letter to the Prime Minister to gauge interest in developing a national pollinator strategy in Canada similar to the one in the United States. The Industry Co-chair provided further background on the US model and asked for member endorsement to explore development of a Canadian strategy. There was some discussion of the role and impact of a focussed strategy with agreement that the concept be explored further.
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) gave an update on the Canadian Honey Bee Surveillance Project. Phase 1 of this four year project is now complete and Phase 2 will provide insight into temporal phenology of parasite and pathogen loads during the production season.
  • There was discussion of further opportunities to promote the Planting Forage for Honey Bees in Canada Guide. Members were asked to support promotion of projects utilizing the Guide.
  • Further work was suggested to look at particular farming systems and evaluate their adaptability for habitat improvements. The need to collaborate with producer groups in a mutually beneficial way was noted, as well as the role of the ornamental sector. Ontario’s “eco audit” was noted as a source of information on current activity. Other possible actions could include a review of habitat efforts by various stakeholders to identify approaches that could be adapted.

    • Action Item: The Communication Working Group and the CPWG will consider options to promote the Consolidated Reference of Practices to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Agricultural Pesticides in Canada Guide via separated segments and linkages.
    • Action Item: The Industry Co-chair will draft a letter to Minister Bibeau noting the BHRT’s endorsement of a national pollinator strategy.
    • Action Item: AAFC to work with the Habitat Working Group to explore funding opportunities to produce and circulate hard copies of the planting guide.
    • Action Item: Flowers Canada Growers (FCG) to investigate printing costs.
    • Action Item: OMAFRA to provide additional information to BHRT members on the ECO audit process.

Research Pillar

  • The Research Working Group (RWG) proposed a future focus on updating of the gap analysis of research against bee health priorities.
  • The RWG also proposed to collaborate with the BHRT members to provide input to the forthcoming update of the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists’ (CAPA) statement of research priorities. Members provided comments on some possible priorities, including transport of interprovincial movement, overwintering of queens, and varroa mite control.
  • Members suggested identification of priorities for crop specific analysis of production practices on bees (for example: cranberries and other kind of berries).
  • AAFC researchers made a presentation on Sustainable Crop Pollination, focusing on landscape patterns and native bee pollination services. The presenters drew attention to factors creating “landscape deficits” and the need to plan habitat improvements in anticipation of changing climate and the impacts on pollinators.
  • AAFC presented research on Blueberry Pollination and Honey Bee Health. This study is underway in collaboration with multiple stakeholders and should be completed this year. It is hoped results will support collaborations between beekeepers and growers to increase pollination efficiency.

    • Action Item: The Research Working Group will develop a proposal to update the gap analysis of research relevant to honey bee health.
    • Action Item: Research Working Group will collaborate with BHRT to provide input to the forthcoming update of CAPA’s research priorities. Priorities for crop specific analysis of production practices on bees (for example: cranberries) to be identified.
    • Action Item: AAFC to share information on European Commission Pollinator Potential Index with the BHRT.
    • Action Item: Members agreed that further action to control varroa should be considered. The Varroa Mite Control Working Group will address the issue.

Communications Pillar

  • The Communication Working Group has collected funding contributions from members to develop communications modules to build awareness of the activities of the Roundtable and the cross-sectoral collaboration it represents. The working group is in the process of hiring a consultant for this project.
  • Co-chairs reviewed the strategic plan Knowledge Transfer pillar; members agreed that the key elements remain relevant to the Roundtable and work on these should continue.

Model Bee Health Initiatives

  • The US Honey Bee Health Coalition (HBHC) made a presentation on its activities to foster collaboration for pollinator health. Highlights included various tools for beekeepers and farmers such as a Best Management Practices for Bee Health Guide and a Varroa Management Decision Tool. HBHC is engaging a variety of stakeholders throughout agriculture, research, government and conservation to promote multi-factor solutions for honey bee health.

Other Business

  • Members noted the challenges of access to funds to realize Roundtable goals; and the potential to reach out to other commodity sectors. The value of the BHRT as a mechanism to co-ordinate multi-stakeholder effort was affirmed.
  • Feedback was sought from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regarding access to antibiotics and probiotics.

    • Action Item: Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) programs options will be considered for other Roundtable activities.
    • Action Item: CFIA will update the BHRT members on making probiotics available to the beekeeping sector, possibly through a special meeting of the Honey and Beekeeping Issues Review Group.
    • Action Item: Horticulture and beekeeping producer members of the BHRT will explore how to collaborate to better coordinate pollination services.

Conclusion

Roundtable members will be polled to select the next meeting date in January 2020.

Annex A: Participants

Co-chairs

  • Rod Scarlett, Canadian Honey Council
  • Kathleen Donohue, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)

Industry

  • Allan Campbell, Canadian Honey Council
  • Anju Gill, BC Blueberry Council
  • Carey Gates, Flowers Canada Growers
  • Debra Conlon, Grain Farmers of Ontario
  • Gregory Sekulic, Canola Council of Canada
  • Jack Hamilton, Oxford Frozen Foods Ltd. (on the phone)
  • Darell Park, CropLife Canada
  • Rob Currie, University of Manitoba (by phone)
  • Scott Plante , Canadian Honey Council
  • Stan Reist, Canadian Honey Council
  • Victoria Wojcik, Pollinator Partnership
  • Brianna Chouinard, Canadian Seed Growers Association (CSGA)
  • Caleigh Irwin, Canadian Horticultural Council
  • Claudio Feulner, Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA)
  • Howard Mains, Association of Equipment Manufacturers

Provincial government

  • Julie Ferland, Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec (by phone)
  • Geoff Wilson, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture (by phone)
  • Gavin Downing, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food
  • Paul van Westendorp, British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture (by phone)
  • Rhéal Lafrenière, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (by phone)

Federal government

  • Steve Pernal, AAFC
  • Connie Hart, Health Canada - Pest Management Regulatory Agency
  • Lindsay Hanson, Health Canada - Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA)
  • Connie Rajzman, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Animal Import/Export Division
  • Graham Thurston, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Guests / speakers

  • Mélanie Dubois, AAFC/STB (by phone)
  • Matthew Mulica, Honey Bee Health Coalition (by phone)
  • Martha Guarna, AAFC/STB (by phone)

Federal support

  • Claudine Routhier, AAFC/IED
  • Shane Campbell, AAFC/IED
  • Maxine Grier, AAFC/CHD
  • Stephen Page, AAFC/CHD
  • Farid Makki, AAFC/CHD

Industry observers

  • Salah Zoghlami, Fédération des producteurs de cultures commerciales du Québec (by phone)
  • Chris Nanni, Seed Corn Growers of Ontario (by phone)
  • Medhat Nasr, (by phone)
  • Luc Bourgeois, Bayer Crop Science Inc
  • Fran Unnau, Canadian Farmers Association

Provincial government observers

  • Paul Kozak, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (by phone)

Federal government observers

  • Marcos Alvarez, AAFC/PMC
  • Chris Tolton, AAFC /ORO
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