David Suzuki Foundation wants fewer urban beekeepers, claims they have 'negative impact' on wild bees

As part of its crusade against ‘climate change,’ the David Suzuki Foundation is on a warpath with everyone’s favourite pollinator — the honeybee.

David Suzuki Foundation wants fewer urban beekeepers, claims they have 'negative impact' on wild bees
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According to the Western Standard, the controversial environmental group, in a bizarre turn of events, wants them to buzz off.

A study out of Concordia University concluded that urban bees have an ‘invasive’ impact on more than 150 species of wild bees.

The foundation’s Rewilding Communities program manager, Jode Roberts, agreed with its findings, despite also being an urban beekeeper.

“Over the past several years, study after study has painted an alarming picture: insect populations have declined by 45% in the past four decades,” he wrote in a Toronto Star op-ed. 

“From monarch butterflies to fireflies, insects are in trouble. Yet, human-managed honeybees have remained at the centre of the public’s attention.”

During summer, a single hive can support up to 50,000 honeybees, according to Roberts.

Select municipalities, like Calgary, amended zoning bylaws last year to permit urban beekeeping to reverse the adverse effects of fewer pollinators on local food chains. 

As of January 1, 2022, registered beekeepers who own property and have adequate site plans can construct and maintain beehives within Calgary. Urbanites can set up hives in backyards, terraces, and even on the roofs of shops and grocery stores.

In Montreal, the number of beekeepers has soared from under 250 to almost 3,000 between 2013 and 2020. However, the Concordia study said urban beekeeping has pushed out wild bee populations from their natural habitats.

“Most of our wild bees nest in the ground, similar to places where you might see an ant’s nest,” said study lead author Gail MacInnis, a research scientist at Canada’s National Bee Diagnostic Centre.

“So even leaving a bare patch of soil in your backyard can help wild bees and is far less work than caring for a honeybee hive,” he said.

However, researchers indicated the density of honey bees in urban population centres had produced tensions in balancing urban and wild bee populations. They suggest up to three hives per square kilometre. 

According to Roberts, Montreal has twice as many hives as is sustainable. “This is a wake-up call for beekeepers like me,” he said“This spring, I am committing to giving up urban beekeeping to better support the hundreds of species of wild bees that need our help.”

Other authors from the study also lumped urban chicken breeders into the mix in an attempt to drive home their point.

“Just as we wouldn’t advocate keeping backyard chickens to save the birds, we shouldn’t look to beekeeping to save the bees,” wrote researcher Carly Ziter. “It’s important our intentions line up with our impact.”

Roberts noted that urbanites should approach beekeeping with caution.

“We’re not saying that beekeeping is inherently bad,” he said. “It can be a great way to support local food production and raise awareness.” 

“However, we need to be mindful of the potential negative impacts on our wild bee populations and take steps to mitigate them.”

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  • By David Menzies

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