Ont. sets up bee quarantine area in southwest

In a bid to prevent small hive beetle from spreading across Ontario, the province has imposed a quarantine area for bees in southwestern Ontario’s Essex County and part of the Chatham-Kent municipality.

The declaration, issued Monday, follows confirmation last September of small hive beetle (aethina tumida) in Essex County, after which the province’s ag ministry began quarantining individual yards where the pest was observed.

At last count, 16 individual yards and a processing facility were under quarantine.

Now, however, in the broader quarantine area set up Monday, beekeepers and people with beekeeping equipment are blocked from moving bee colonies or equipment out of the area without prior written approval from the Provincial Apiarist’s office.

That also includes moving bees or equipment within the quarantine area, to help keep the small hive beetle infestations inside the western part of the area, the province said. Bees and equipment “must stay where (they are) in the quarantine area, until permission is granted to move them.”

Beekeepers in the area also must report any previously unreported findings of small hive beetle to the provincial ag ministry, and must take part in any surveillance and treatment measures as the Provincial Apiarist’s office directs, the province said.

Affected beekeepers must also follow “specific biosecurity measures listed in the declaration,” such as cleansing of footwear and disinfection of tools, the province said.

Setting up this quarantine area now, before the start of the beekeeping season, “provides the best opportunity to control movement of bees and prevent the inadvertent spread of small hive beetle from any yard where it might be present but not yet detected,” the province said.

While small hive beetle does not affect food safety or human health, it’s considered a “significant risk” to honey bee colony health and can damage beekeeping equipment and spoil honey, the province warned.

While small hive beetle is established in most regions of the U.S. and confirmed findings have been reported in southern Quebec and Western Canada, it’s not known whether the pest has established a “resident population” anywhere in Ontario outside the quarantine area, the province said.

The boundaries of the broader quarantine announced Monday include all of Essex County and the part of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent lying southwestward of a line made up of a Town Line Road, Pump Road and Merlin Road (County Road 7), as if the roadways extended continuously from points of intersection with the shorelines of Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie.

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