Pollinators are organisms that help transfer pollen from one flowering plant to another. This fertilizes plants so that they can produce seeds and fruit.
With over 700 native species in Canada, bees are the most common pollinators. Other pollinators include butterflies, moths, wasps, flies, some types of beetles, hummingbirds and certain bats. Bees and other insect pollinators are critical to the production of many crops and play an essential ecological role. Crops that depend on the work of pollinators include tree and berry fruit, canola, alfalfa, squash, and melon.
Declines in honeybee and other pollinator populations have generated considerable scientific and public interest both in Canada and internationally. A number of factors are seen as potential contributors to these declines and no single factor has been identified as the cause. The available science suggests that multiple factors acting in combination may be at play, including loss of habitat and food sources, diseases, viruses and pests, and pesticide exposure.
It is also known that certain pesticides can pose an immediate, or "acute", threat to bees. In order to protect pollinators, the labels of pesticides that pose such risks specify detailed use directions to reduce potential exposure. These include restrictions on pesticide spraying on flowering crops or weeds where bees may be present. All precautions and directions on pesticide labels should be followed.
As the federal authority for pesticide regulation, Health Canada is actively working with key stakeholders as well as provincial agriculture and environment ministries to ensure agricultural practices across the country protect pollinators. It is also collaborating with other pesticide regulators internationally to refine pesticide risk assessment methods and data requirements so that the potential effects on bees are better understood and risks can be mitigated.
Best Management Practices
The following best management practices include measures that can be taken by growers to protect bees and other insect pollinators including honeybees, from pesticide exposure.
Other Risk Mitigation Documents
Health Canada's risk assessment framework for bees was developed in cooperation with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. The pollinator risk assessment framework and guidance in the links that follow this paragraph represents an advancement in how we assess the risks posed by pesticides to bees, and allows improved pollinator protection in our regulatory decisions and risk mitigation measures. Health Canada also cooperates internationally through the OECD to develop improvements to pollinator risk assessment and mitigation, including development of test guidelines and guidance documents.
For bee poisonings related to pesticides, contact the appropriate federal or provincial authority:
You can contact Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency at 1-800-267-6315.