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Let's reduce the stress on the honeybee

(NC) Bees are responsible for pollinating one-third of the food Canadians eat – and that makes them vital to the sustainability of our agriculture.

But the good health of bees can be affected by a number of complex factors and we all have a role to play in protecting their well-being. Here are five facts about the causes of stress for these vital creatures:

Fact #1:Mites and parasitesHoneybees are subject to various mites, parasites and several contagious bacterial diseases. The Varroa mite, for example, was first seen in Canadian hives in the 1980s and has become the common factor in bee colony decline.

Fact #2:Habitat loss and malnutritionIn areas with poor biodiversity – including many urban areas – the quantity and quality of nectar and pollen is compromised. This can have a negative impact on bee nutrition. Many native wildflower landscapes, which are important contributors to bee diets, have been lost due to suburban building development.

Fact #3: Chemical exposureIt is important to minimize any potential exposure of pesticides to non-target organisms. The plant science industry has developed a set of best management practices designed to help growers minimize inadvertent exposure of pollinators to insecticide seed treatment products during planting.

Fact #4:Climate factorsHoneybees are extremely sensitive to weather changes. Inconsistency of seasonal weather patterns in Canada is a key factor in bee health, especially when it comes to winter survival rates. Weather changes may also explain the arrival of new pests.

Fact #5: GeneticsOver the centuries, beekeeping may have genetically weakened honey bee colonies. Domesticated bees are bred to be less aggressive and produce more honey, which can lead to a progressive weakening in their resistance to pests and diseases.

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