Friday, February 25, 2011

Local Beekeepers are fighting to keep our precious island pollinators safe

Here is a letter I sent today to BC Agriculture Minister Ben Stewart regarding the inadequate protection of island honey-bees.

February 25, 2011

Dear Minister Stewart,

I am writing to draw your attention to a matter requiring your action. As you are likely aware, the owner of Babe’s Honey, Mark Pitcher, is now facing several fraud-related criminal charges. I assume he is innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law. Having said that, it is important to revisit how your Ministry has handled the Vancouver Island bee file.

My understanding is that the policy to lift the quarantine on the importation of bees and of bee equipment on the island was based in large part on input from Mr. Pitcher.
In contrast, hundreds of Island beekeepers – including substantial honey-related business owners – were denied input in the decision-making process. They were and are presenting a consensus on what steps are necessary to safeguard our island pollinators and improve honey bee health on the island.

Experts, concerned individuals and myself, have been speaking out strongly about this situation since the quarantine was lifted. We have warned your ministry repeatedly of the danger of this course of action. Our input was ignored.

At this point, it is important to ensure the safety of hundreds of millions of bees recently brought onto Vancouver Island by Mr. Pitcher. I have questions regarding the health and maintenance of these hives. As the Official Opposition Critic for Agriculture, I am asking for answers.

I want to know what course of action you are recommending and what steps you are taking to ensure the situation improves.

This issue affects all of us on the island because if these bees become diseased and spread their disease, our already-decimated precious island pollinators could be further harmed.

As you know, pollination is a very important part of our food security and pollination is fundamental to our island agriculture industries.

I look forward to your earliest reply

Sincerely, Lana Popham

Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South
Official Opposition Critic for Agriculture

And check out this Times Colonist article for more details: