Honey bees, neonicotinoids and bee incident reports: the Canadian situation




Neonicotinoid insecticides have been the target of much scrutiny as possible causes of recent declines observed in pollinator populations. Although neonicotinoids have been implicated in honey bee pesticide incidents, there has been little examination of incident report data. Here we summarize honey bee incident report data obtained from the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA).


In Canada, there were very few honey bee incidents reported in 2007–2011 and data were not collected prior to 2007. In 2012, a significant number of incidents were reported in the province of Ontario, where exposure to neonicotinoid dust during planting of corn was suspected to have caused the incident in up to 70% of cases. Most of these incidents were classified as ‘minor’ by the PMRA, and only six cases were considered ‘moderate’ or ‘major’. In that same year, there were over three times as many moderate or major incidents due to older non-neonicotinoid pesticides, involving numbers of hives or bees far greater than the number of moderate or major incidents suspected to be due to neonicotinoid poisoning.


These data emphasize that, while exposure of honey bees to neonicotinoid-contaminated dust during corn planting needs to be mitigated, other pesticides also pose a risk. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry