Bee-keepers in Saanich South called me right away to raise their concerns. I took an afternoon to call bee-keepers up and down the island and what I learned was disturbing. Beekeepers have a legitimate concern that lifting the quarantine will expose their bees to antibiotic-resistant diseases found on the mainland like American and European foulbrood, as well as pests like the greater wax moth and the small hive beetle, which have not yet infested island hives.
Beekeepers are especially concerned because last winter approximately 90 per cent of island honeybees died. We don't know why but one widely-held theory blames the varroa mite which was allegedly introduced to island hives by individuals who contravened the the quarantine.
If the government is unable to maintain a simple quarantine, how can bee-keepers expect them to dedicate the resources necessary to effectively protect island bees?
I am also deeply concerned that the government failed to consult bee-keepers in the process leading up to this decision. The government has a duty to engage stake-holders and learn from sector leaders prior to making such important changes.
In solidarity with small-scale and large-scale bee-keepers throughout Vancouver Island, I am calling for the resumption of a moratorium on the importation of bees from the mainland. Changes to this policy must be developed through consultation with the island bee-keeping sector.
Lana Popham, MLA
[This form now closed]