up front By Bryden Winsby

Another spin on honeybee problems I

t has been a difficult decade for honeybees. First they were suddenly dying due to something called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), for which experts have considered a number of possible causes, including pathogen infestation, beekeeping practices and pesticide exposure. Then it was shown that significant die-offs have occurred numerous times over the centuries since they were first ‘managed’ by humans. Now they have been implicated by a commentary in the journal Science as damaging the environment because there are too many of them. Yikes.

Here’s a summary:

“There is widespread concern about the global decline in pollinators and the associated loss of pollination services. This concern is understandable given the importance of pollinators for global food security; about 75 per cent of all globally important crops depend to some degree on pollination, and the additional yield due to pollination adds about nine per cent to the global crop production.

“These services are delivered by a plethora of species, including more than 20,000 species of bees as well as butterflies, flies, and many species of vertebrates Yet, concern has focused on one species above all: the western honeybee (Apis mellifera). This is unfortunate because research shows that managed honeybees can harm wild pollinator species, providing an urgent incentive to change honeybee management practices.”

The commentary’s author, Jonas Geldmann, at the University of Cambridge, says he understands how the honeybee became a symbol of environmental conservation, but he’s not happy about it. “The way we're managing honeybees, in these hives, has nothing to do with nature conservation,” he says.

Okay, so I might have poked the bear here, but only to provide some food for thought and further investigation. Meanwhile, we’ve devoted considerable space in this issue to honeybee matters closer to home. In the following pages, Associate Editor Judie Steeves describes pollination difficulties being

4 British Columbia Berry Grower • Spring 2018 encountered by

blueberry growers, how last year’s worst-ever wildfire season was the likely cause of a sharp drop in honey production in the province’s Interior, and why there ought to be standardization of

beehive quality and prices in B.C. Elsewhere, there are details about an apparent knowledge gap among growers when it comes to pest management. It’s the result of an assessment undertaken by the Lower Mainland Horticulture Improvement


You’ll also read about several aspects of climate change and approaches to take in the face of seasonal weather challenges. And if you’d rather do something other than compost or dump your blemished and culled berries, our resident scientist Gary Strachan offers some tips on making juice for home use, roadside stand and /or farmers’ market. Enjoy.

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