Pollinators, including honeybees, are essential to food production all over the world. It’s why farmers are always encouraged to chose insecticides that are as pest-specific as possible and to avoid applying them when pollinators are flying. Pollinators are not just good for bumping yields, they are necessary for some crops to even set seed.
Recent bee deaths around planting time in parts of Ontario has alarmed farmers and extension staff, as planting time is not normally associated with insecticide application, except in seed treatments. The issue has become a key focus of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Rural Affairs, and Tracy Baute, field crop entomologist with OMAF and MRA, is involved in not only tracking bee losses in the provinces, but, perhaps more importantly, getting to the bottom of why this is happening.
In this interview, Baute explains the issue in great detail, and shares how farmers can minimize the risk to pollinators at planting time through best management practices. She also shares what research is on-going to first understand all that is happening so we can best protect the pollinators.
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