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Cultivated Blueberries on Prince Edward Island

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Sunday 10 - Wednesday 13 August 2003
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We're on PEI.  We drove up from Maine and spent a week here in a cottage on the beach with Aaron and Betsy.

We spent a few days exploring and sunning on the beach.  The local fish is fresh and inexpensive, but the best way to enjoy it is to but it from the fish locker and take it home to cook.  Our cottage had a good kitchen and a grill.  We made good use of it.

Stan Sandler is a PEI commercial beekeeper whom both Aaron and I have known, via the internet, for years.  Last year Aaron had paid Stan a visit and we decided that we would do the same this year.  Stan dives, and invited us to meet him near Hermanville for a dive to see a wreck on the bottom off a point.  We accepted and as we drove up the dirt trail to the site, we passed fields of commercial blueberries.  Beekeepers in the area pollinate this crop and this provides income to supplement the income from honey and other pollination.  The picture on the left shows a blueberry field and the red, sandy soil that makes up the island.

We arrived at the site and Stan and his son, plus a friend dove for an hour or so while I napped.  They found the wreck without much trouble, lying in about 10 to 15 feet of water.  The entire area where we launched was covered with the berries shown on the right, which we could not identify.  They are not blueberries, but Stan tried one and said it was pleasant. 

After the three returned, Aaron and I went out.  Aaron has done some scuba before, but I had never tried it.  More later....

Thursday 14 August 2003
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I'm working from a public terminal and don't have access to my normal web editing tools. There is no phone in our cottage or nearby.  I'll be leaving soon and, once I get a better web access, I'll be getting things more up-to-date. In the meantime, Here is a letter I got from a friend in the USA. IMO, it's a good one.


Still more rain. So, I'll sit here and type and watch the lightning do battle with my walnut trees...

Your writings about the Canadian "queen and package" issue were pointed out by a guy who shares my concern about the risks posed to worldwide agriculture posed by the current set of WTO/SPS "rules".

I agree with your general position, but I don't think anyone in Canada really "gets it" yet.

Here's a shocker - I've done my homework, and I don't think that anyone in Canada has said a single thing that proves they know how to "protect" Canadian apiaries. I would not want to see a single queen exported from the US to Canada until Canada and the US agree on a specific protocol.

The big tip-off is that Canadian discussions have yet to include the phrase "checks and balances". This alone implies that all discussion to date should be scrapped as "uninformed", and everyone needs to go find out about the WTO agreements Canada signed before they start over again.

Canada would be foolish to import bees from anywhere (USA included) under the "exporter certification" scheme everyone keeps assuming to be the default mechanism. Canada's own experience with varroa in packages from NZ proves this. While an additional introduction of varroa was not likely viewed as a big deal, what if it had been Tropilaelaps instead? How long can Canada keep rolling those dice without losing? While we are at it, just who has the right to roll such dice for everyone?

Maybe some of this will help you to develop a better presentation to the various bee organizations in Canada. Maybe not.

1) The WTO and NAFTA Agreements Make Imports Inevitable

Both Canada and the USA signed the WTO and NAFTA agreements. This means that "protectionist" arguments are futile, and do nothing but discredit those who make them as irrational. Our nations must live up to their commitments to other nations. (I'm going to mostly ignore "NAFTA" and focus on "WTO" just to simplify.)

Under the WTO agreements, the only way one can block imports is due a very short list of specific diseases and pests. The lists are kept by the OIE. The disease or pest must be (somehow) proven to exist in the prospective exporter country, and (again, somehow) proven to not exist in the prospective receiving county.

Never mind that the task is nearly impossible and inherently incomplete, them's the rules of the game.

Given that bee pests and diseases have a habit of being both unforeseen and spread by unforeseen means (via countries thought to be free of the pest/disease, by smuggling, by surprise arrival of infested bees with other cargos, or by the rare case of the surprise arrival of the pest/disease via a vector other than live bees), it follows that it may be only a matter of time until nearly everyone everywhere has every common pest and disease.

Unless, of course, port-of-entry inspections are used, at least on a "statistical sample" basis.

If you think about it long enough, world trade would be "easier" if everyone had all possible pests and diseases, so one wonders just how cynical the phrase "acceptable risk" is when it is made by anyone associated with the WTO. No wonder they default to "certification" as the presumed mechanism to control pests and diseases.

Canada is lucky enough to have a few isolated areas that could "stay lucky" for a long time, but this won't help Canada block imports unless Canada is willing to follow WTO rules and impose strict quarantines to protect disease/pest free areas from domestic infestation. This may seem draconian, and it is. The WTO rules were set up to increase trade, not to protect against exotic invasive species and diseases. The rules force a country to beat its own producers with the same stick it uses on any other country's producers.

2) Like It Or Not, Specific Rules Apply To Canada.

It should be clear to all that Canada has run out of reasonable excuses for prohibiting imports of US queens and packages. While beekeepers may concede the difference between "varroa", "varroa resistant to Apistan", and "varroa resistant to coumaphos", the OIE does not recognize anything other than "varroa". Either a country "has a pest" or "does not", and there is no middle ground that would not require the pyrrhic victory of a self-imposed internal quarantine between areas in Canada. If Canada wants the OIE to define "resistant varroa" as a new type of pest, they should start lobbying the OIE, but until then, Canada's ban is a "non-tariff barrier to trade", subject to WTO fines and sanctions.

Even when a prospective exporting country "has" a pest or disease, individual exporters can "certify" that they are far away from any known incidence of the pest or disease, and continue to export. This clearly applies to New Zealand for varroa, and also applies to the US for AHB and SHB.

For Canada to continue its current inconsistent stance is to risk a random US bee breeder filing a compliant that would lead to the WTO forcing Canada to accept US bees on the WTO's terms. Canada can do better than that. It appears that Canada has the time to do better, mostly because bees are never going to be a "major issue" as compared to other import/export items, and dollar-volume appears to be dictating which exports get the most attention from the WTO and the exporting nations.

Even worse, under NAFTA "Chapter 11", an individual exporter can recover all the revenue he MIGHT have earned if not for the protectionist barrier. Companies in both Canada and the US have cashed in on this several times, so no one has a "moral high ground" on this slimy tactic. Its extortion. Its the rules of the game.

The WTO deck is stacked in favor of the profits of a tiny number of exporting firms, and entire nations are forced to their knees at the altar of commerce. This reality renders many of the points under debate in Canada moot. Wake up and smell the (imported) coffee.

3) Canada CREATED the Planet-Wide Queen/Package Business

Yes, let's "blame Canada" for the whole mess. Its all your fault! :)

When Canada banned US bees, Canada became the "market" that turned New Zealand and Australia into exporters of significant numbers of live bees. Without the ban, shipping charges alone would have priced bees from the other side of the planet out of competition, and there would never have been much of an "export business" for live bees across oceans.

Gee thanks! :)

Once Canada found out that bees from New Zealand and Australia ranged from mediocre to terrible, export sales to Canada dropped off, and the dozen or so bee breeder/exporters whined to their governments that something needed to be done. Both countries tasked their representatives to the US with forcing the US to open its borders to their bees, since they logically saw the US as the second biggest market for large shipments of bees. As luck would have it, the representatives of these two exporters were perhaps the rudest and least professional of anyone in the entire "World Trade" game, and have played their cards very poorly. Worse yet, each country has been forced to admit that they failed to detect invasions of large and obvious external pests (varroa in NZ, and SHB in Oz) for several years while they were trumpeting their "disease free" status as if it somehow implied "better" bees.

Now we have Argentina requesting US "market access" too. Laughable, but expensive. US tax dollars must be spent to slog through the process. While we would rather have the limited budgets available spent to reduce the risk of overt terrorism, we are forced to allocate resources to thinking about exported Argentinean bees.

4) The WTO "Assumes" Exporter Certification, But Allows Port-Of-Entry Inspection

The WTO processes were simply not designed to address the special case of shipments of live animals. They were thinking of "commodities" and "goods". Live animals don't fit well into the process. Bees clearly cannot be "fumigated" like grain, and bees are unique for being nearly impossible to inspect or "certify" on an animal-by-animal basis like cows and sheep.

If one assumes that New Zealand has the "best" biosecurity plans on the planet (and they do at least have lots of pretty paper and web pages with well-thought out plans), New Zealand's recent experience proves the following:

a) Anyone who claims that they don't have a pest/disease is guessing.

b) Guesses, by definition, must be assumed to be wrong.

c) "Exporter Certification" is thereby a useless biosecurity tool.

The UK realized this long before anyone else, and quietly implemented an inspection protocol. This protocol is tolerated by both NZ and Oz, and has proven to protect both exporters against claims that their exports were the source of specific pest and disease problems found after inspections.

The "UK model" is the best starting point we have. It may not be perfect, but it is far better than other options, and is an off-the-shelf solution that has an excellent track record. We might do better, but we stand a serious risk of doing worse unless we at least look at their protocol.

5) Operate Independently of Trust

Canadian opponents of imported bees have every right to fear the spread of diseases and pests. They also have every right to not trust the US to export bees that would be 100% pest-free and disease-free. No one can be trusted to do so, since everyone lacks perfect knowledge, no one has perfect processes, and the unexpected has a habit of being the rule when in comes to bees.

While it is impossible to "stop imports", it is clearly possible to reject individual shipments that fail inspections. This should be all the clue anyone needs.

6) Don't Expect Continued Favors

Canada somehow assumes that they are entitled to free access to the intellectual property of the USA in the form of bee "germplasm" and "breeder queens" of specific stocks that appear to have promise. This is pure fantasy. Canada banned US bees. Why should exceptions be made?

Note that the WTO rules do not distinguish between live animals and "germplasm", so this is not only "fair", it has substantial precedent.

It is clearly not in the best interest of the USA to give away what appears to be a "tangible technological advantage" when commercial sales of production queens and packages are banned by Canada. Expect the USA to tighten up on this, and expect the USA to continue to lead the planet in such technology. Universities have discovered that private/public partnerships are excellent cash cows, and the federal government can now grant exclusive licenses to market the work-product resulting from federal research. Supporting "the free flow of scientific information" does not imply that anyone is obligated to provide Canada with more than reprints of papers.

Expect specific administrative regulations that FULLY comply with both the spirit and letter of the Canadian bee import ban, and clearly define all queens, germplasm, and live bees as "banned items".

The result will soon be that the only way Canada is going to get the newer desirable bee traits is to first allow them to be sold direct to the beekeeper in the form of queens and packages. No one would have a problem providing Canadian breeders with breeder queens and other "advanced technology" if retail sales of production queens were also allowed, but the term "self sufficient" is laughable when Canada contributes nothing to US research budgets, provides no revenue to those who both pay taxes and contribute money to research funds, but still has its hand out, expecting the largess of the end products of US research.

If nothing else, this alone should motivate Canadians to stop their internal bickering, and start negotiating specific port-of-entry inspection protocols.

This is not "mean", it is merely "leverage". It is for Canada's own good.

7) Bees On Comb Are A Non-Issue

I assumed that the concern voiced about truckloads of hives crossing into Canada were a strawman argument, but the issue keeps popping up. It should be obvious that Canada can allow imports of queens only, queens and packages, whatever. But nothing more.

If Canada wants to allow migratory beekeeper movement, this would have nothing to do with queens and/or packages. In my view, it could never be practical now that diseases and pests are a consideration.

8) Unrestricted Imports Are A Non-Issue

Why anyone wasted the time and money on a "study" of "unrestricted imports" is beyond me. From here, it looks like a purely political move by a faction trying to create a "FUD Factor" (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt).

No one in their right mind would even consider a return to unrestricted imports. "Open borders" are a quaint but obsolete relic of the 20th Century. Only a fool would agree to export bees over an "open border", since a lack of checks and balances would expose the exporter to civil liability in the event that some pest or disease outbreak was blamed on his shipment.

Its a shame that the effort was not put to something more productive, like requesting photocopies of the UK regulations for bee imports. (I requested copies, and a complete package was sent in less than a week.)

9) A National Consensus IS Required

Last I checked, Alberta was a province, and had no ability to conduct its own foreign policy, or sign international trade agreements.

If any province was going to try to make its own way in the world, I would have picked Quebec. Are Albertans declaring their independence from the rest of Canada? Led by beekeepers? Good luck.

If not, consensus-building is clearly the only option, but a "national consensus" does not imply that all provinces have to adopt the same controls or the same protocols. Look at California, which continues to inspect every truck and every hive entering the state for possible fire-ant infestation, and realize that they are ready and willing to turn trucks around and send them home.

There's nothing wrong with Saskatchewan establishing tighter controls and stricter protocols than Alberta. If they want, they can construct a set of protocols so strict that imports are simply impractical. They clearly can declare themselves "disease free" on several OIE pests and diseases, so strict controls would be appropriate.

But they have to be educated until they realize that "just say no" won't fly any more. Not anywhere. Not even in Saskatchewan.

10) Smuggling Is The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

While Canadian smuggling is a significant endorsement for the quality of US bees, please rein in your rebels. The smuggling incidents only hurt Albertan beekeepers' ability build confidence that they are willing to comply with whatever checks and balances are negotiated.

If the US breeders who sold the bees had any brains, they would refuse to sell large consignments of bees without verifying that they will stay in the US, just to keep the pressure on the Canadians to come to the table and work out a protocol. The USA is also not without sin.

But what can you expect from beekeepers except myopic short-term self-interest that results in self-inflicted gunshot wounds? :)

11) The "Precautionary Principle" Might Kill The WTO

If the EU continues to wave around the "precautionary principle", the WTO will likely soon become irrelevant. In that case, Canada will still be party to NAFTA, so US/Canada trade will still be subject to "rules" that limit protectionist activity. The good news is that Canada would not be forced to negotiate with anyone other than NAFTA members. "NAFTA" is slowly expanding to include the entire continent, so maybe Argentina will soon become less laughable than they now appear.

No one ever gets what they deserve. They get what they negotiate.


Note from Allen:

Jim has done a great job of summing things up, and covered pretty well all the bases.  There are some points that should be made, however, that might affect the conclusions reached:

  • Jim, being from the South, seems to miss the fact that there are virtually no natural, feral colonies of bees in Western Canada.  The entire bee population that survives year to year is maintained at great expense and effort by beekeepers, largely because of the scarcity, uncertainty, and poor quality of spring replacements, and about 20% to 25% of the Fall count perish in winter, fouling the beehives and making unhealthy work for beekeepers, cleaning out the dead equipment in Spring.

  • Additionally, a further 10% attrition  in commercial hives is normal during the production season, so annually, on average, about a third of Western Canadian colonies die each year and must be replaced.  This figure fluctuates, and some beekeepers lose up to 100% some years.  Refilling empty hives from Canadian bees is possible, but expensive, compared to using package bees.  The Western Canadian season is short; replacement tasks take bees out of production and heap extra work on the beekeeper at a time of year when the workload is already heavy.  Even the 'self-sufficient' beekeepers that are used as poster boys for the anti-import faction sometimes get partially or totally wiped out and need to buy replacement stock.  I've verified this.  Self-sufficiency is an illusion.

  • The number of packages and replacement queens imported annually into the West, plus the unmet demand, indicate clearly that, in effect, on average, the entire Western Canadian population of bees is sustained by imports.  Moreover, that population is effectively replaced by imports every three years.  For the most part, and with few exceptions, bees in the entire west of Canada are merely an extension of whatever population of bees provides the imports, and not a separate population!

  • The honey industry in Western Canada could continue profitably -- possibly more profitably than at present -- even if every hive was killed or died every year, as long as reasonably priced replacements were available reliably and  in abundance.  In the past, when supplies of bees in Spring were cheap and plentiful, some Canadian operations depopulated all their hives annually, and although most beekeepers would continue to winter bees, some in difficult wintering zones might choose that style of operation again, if they could.

  • Because of these facts, arguments that could reasonably be made for non-artificially maintained, long lived domestic species cannot be made for honey bees in Western Canada, and reliable supply is more important than minor bee health risks and issues.

  • Another point I would question, is the matter of national consensus.  Jim makes a number of assumptions, that do not bear out.  National consensus is not necessary for allowing a prohibition to lapse, and national action is not necessary to impose controls and inspections in specific jurisdictions.  Have you ever tried driving into California with fruit, or heard of the inspection ordeals beekeepers go through hauling bees to the almonds? 
    Moreover, who will measure that consensus?  CHC is not credible, and CAPA have proven not to be able to see the whole picture.  CFIA is starting to see this as a hot potato.  Besides, the issue affects more than just the existing Canadian bee industry.   There are other stakeholders, including governments and districts that would benefit from an expanded industry.

  • Jim assumes that moving bees across borders is out of the question, but actually, it is not.  Migratory beekeeping will continue and grow in North America for the same reason that Free Trade will prevail, because the known benefits and savings outweigh the costs and the risks -- which are only guesses at best --  almost all the time.

This article, formatted for printing

Well, actually, I do 'get it', and so do others, but we've been pulling our punches and waltzing around the issue  out of consideration for some of the light weights, hoping they will smarten up before the thing gets really nasty and everyone gets hurt.  As you say, also, just because the law is the law does not mean it is right, so people are a little reluctant to call in the dogs.  Civilized discussion and compromise is what will serve everyone best, not draconian enforcement of law.  Unfortunately, with or without the encouragement of the CHC and several provinces, the feds have decided to get rough with the bee smugglers and that has upped the stakes.

Today .. Sunny. High 28. UV index 6 or moderate. Tonight .. Clear. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 11.  Normals for the period .. Low 9. High 23.

Friday 15 August 2003
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Relaxing, swimming and a fish and lobster supper.

Today is our last day here on PEI.  We packed for an early departure.

Friday .. Sunny. Wind east 20 km/h. High 28.

Saturday 16 August 2003
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Left at 6:45 and drove to Drummondville, PQ.  It was over 12 hours from Charlottetown.  We got the last motel room in town.

Today .. Sunny. Wind becoming south 20 km/h. High 26. UV index 6 or moderate.
Tonight .. Clear. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 11.
Normals for the period .. Low 10. High 24.

Sunday 17 August 2003
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We drove to Pine Hill, and arrived in time for for supper and for a swim & snorkel in the River.

Sunday .. Sunny. High 30.
Monday 18 August 2003
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Mom and Lindsey left at 6 to go to Sudbury.  It is Lindsey's 21st birthday.  John Patterson and wife, and her sister came over in  the afternoon for a swim.

Jim's letter (above) has brought in some interest. 

"I attended the WAS meeting at SFU. It was low key compared to the EAS with
only around 70 attendees. They were all hobbyists because the timing is
terrible for anyone making a living at bees. One keener traditionally attends both
EAS and WAS. He is now heading off to Slovenia for Apimondia. It must be
nice to have the time. He told me a lot of good stuff about making mead and wine
so the time in Vancouver was not wasted.

"The bee importation issue came up many times. It is clear that even the
hobby US beekeepers are wondering what is up.

The letter that you posted on your website from Jim (who?) is the best
summary I have seen in a long time. His information on the WTO is correct
and his observations about biosecurity are well presented. There are risks
involved in importation and we have to figure out how to reduce them to an
acceptable level...

"We can and will get a national consensus and make a recommendation that
suits the majority. Consensus is a lot closer than you think...

Well, a consensus that meets the needs of minorities and the community at
large -- not just the entrenched beekeeping lobby --  is what we really need. 

I wonder if 'we' can do it?

I haven't written about EAS yet.  I will.  I promise.

FWIW, EAS only drew a little over 300 this year, down from 800+ a few years ago, and only 55 were registered for the short courses, so the WAS turnout is a respectable fraction.  At least attendance at WAS is not in drastic decline.

Today .. Sunny. High 31. UV index 6 or moderate. / Tonight .. A few clouds. Wind southwest 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 11. /  Normals for the period .. Low 8. High 22.Tuesday 19 August 2003

Tuesday 19 August 2003
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Another day at the cottage.  Lindsey came back from Sudbury and worked her night shift at the restaurant.  Ellen & I relaxed around Pine Hill, then went to Patterson's for supper.

The debate continues...

> But I am not a valid participant in any "debate".
> I could do a chalk-talk and educate people as to what
> the Canadian government committed to in NAFTA and WTO,
> (and I promise to never even mention softwood lumber),
> but any "debate" should take place solely between Canadians.

I think not.

Alberta and other western beekeepers have lost millions this year due to the incompetence and intransigence of the CHC and CFIA. I also know there are California beekeepers who are very unhappy with the continued illegal closure of their traditional market. This is an international matter, and all damaged parties are getting together to challenge the CHC and CFIA. Good information and clear thinking is welcome, no matter the geographical source.

In the past less has been at stake, and the issue has been less clear. The favouritism demonstrated this year towards NZ and Aus, has, and the undisguised discrimination against the USA has brought things to a head, as has the tightening of the border controls following 9/11. This year there was no silent background flow of US stock to quietly relieve the pressure, and the true nature of the embargo-fostered shortage has become more apparent.

In the next 8 months, the jam will be cleared, with or without the assistance of the CHC. Even as I write, I am sure lawyers are being hired, targets chosen, and options weighed.

> ...and no, I don't have any interest or investment in
> any queen-breeder. I buy queens myself.
> (I like Sue Colby's queens.)

Many of us would love to buy them as well. I spent a few weeks of my summer in the USA, and saw nothing that, in my mind, justifies closing off the Canadian honey industry from traditional and logical supplies of superior stock. I saw lots of happy, productive bees and happy beekeepers. Just like the good old days in Western Canada before stock quality and replacement became a constant, harrying concern.



A reply...

> Ouch! How are statements like that gonna get the big
> beekeepers anywhere? The CHC and CFIA all are just as smart
> as we are, and all work hard. They just have different views
> of what is "right". They can be swayed, but I doubt that
> they can be bullied.

We'll see how strongly they hold those beliefs if they actually have to pay real money to uphold them. The people they are dominating have paid and paid, and think nothing of having to stand up and pay again.

Up to now, matters have mostly been managed in back rooms. Personally, I think these people are very light-sensitive. Even the mention of public debate or legal action has a very sobering effect on them.

> > I also know there are California beekeepers who are
> > very unhappy with the continued illegal closure of their
> > traditional market.
> "Illegal" is also a poor choice of words. Anything Canada
> is or is not doing might certainly be grounds for complaints
> under WTO or NAFTA, but these are "civil matters". Perhaps
> it would be better to say "a violation of trade agreements".

Whatever. The goal here is to get people thinking, and the only way to get them to broaden their thinking is to suggest that they are vulnerable.

> I look at it this way:
> a) The bulk of Canada's honey is sold to the USA.
> b) The USA would rather have the bulk of its "imported
> honey" coming from Canada, rather than other places
> with lower standards and less ethics.
> c) The USA therefore has a vested interest in making sure
> that Canada produces a decent crop, which requires good
> bees, but the USA has bigger problems, and is not
> going to bother to make an issue about bees.
> d) At the moment, the USA still has a complete and
> total ban on the importation of ANY bees from
> ANYWHERE, as it has had since 1922. The USA is
> also not without sin, and is no position to throw
> stones. (I'm talking beekeepers here, not labs.)
> e) The CHC and the CFIA is no better or no worse than
> their counterparts in the USA. They honestly think
> that they have "no choice" but to ban imports.
> d) Any testing/sampling protocol that might negotiated
> is certain to be dismissed by some as "a joke".
> Honey testing was also a joke until people started
> doing it on a regular basis. (Its easy to advance
> the state of the art - all you do is toss some PhDs
> and some shiny toys in a room, and walk away. After
> a while, all sorts of neat stuff happens.)
> e) And the USA and Canada share a destiny in regards to
> pests and diseases anyway. If we don't adopt identical
> approaches, we end up pointing fingers. This would be
> true even if Canada never bought another US bee.


By the way, the entire Western Canadian honey business was built on package bees from California, and fortunes were made there too as a result of supplying the North West.

Aaron was reading "Bees are my Business" while we were on the beach in PEI. Interesting.

> I think everyone can be educated. I think I could meet each
> province's needs (either for bees or for a defacto "ban")
> under existing WTO SPS regulations, and leave you with
> paperwork that proves that Canada is as pure as driven snow.

First everyone needs to come to the table. The CHC has been playing cute, using strawmen, fear-mongering, shouting down, stonewalling, etc. A little fear might get them to open their ears -- and maybe even compromise.

> I don't know what has been brought to a head, as I have only
> started paying attention since the USA now faces the same
> risks that Canada embraced with open arms, and I am apparently
> even more paranoid than your Saskatchewan group. I guess that
> the higher honey prices were the real "pressure".

Yup, as was the NZ / Aus hypocrisy and the tightening of the border. Maybe you don't know, but a $100,000 shipment via Indian land was apprehended recently. Moreover, the authorities are now working down the line and intending to charge all participants (buyers) as conspirators. This never used to happen. The stakes are now much higher than they were.

> > This year there was no silent background flow of US stock
> > to quietly relieve the pressure,
> Really? My sources say otherwise. I think that there are
> a few big beekeepers who have quite a few more operational
> hives than they are willing to admit to this season, and will
> have surprisingly larger harvests as a result. They are, of
> course complaining just like everyone else, but this is just
> so as to not call attention to their logistical success.

Some do, some don't. The problem too, is that the established guys can manage, but the complications related to border closure has provided a strong barrier to new entries.


> > In the next 8 months, the jam will be cleared, with or
> > without the assistance of the CHC. Even as I write, I am sure
> > lawyers are being hired, targets chosen, and options weighed.
> Lawsuits are the last refuge of the incompetent. If anyone sues,
> this would mean a MUCH less open and cooperative environment in
> which to cut a deal that makes sense.
> Please, use the lawyers as consultants to write up thoughtful
> documents about why the ban is "untenable", but keep them away
> from the press and the court clerk.


No one wants to go to court, but sometimes the threat of courts can make discussions more objective. The talk of court action also may sober the CHC a bit and make dominating Alberta and BC a little less attractive. The loss to beekeepers on the recent seizure was more than the CHC's annual budget, and the amounts lost to our economy annually due to CHC intransigence are immense. The matter has already been taken to court by the feds. Whether or the industry wants things in court now or not, that's where they are headed unless the regulations get amended, and maybe even if they are changed, since the die is cast, and the industry has chosen federal regulation as a tool. The feds enforce federal laws independent of the wishes of beekeepers. This thing has gotten out of hand, and whether the CHC has been goading the feds on in the prosecution of beekeepers (as some of us think) or not, the feds are determined to make every small violation into a court case.

We must remember that bees are not native to Alberta and survive (tenuously) only with the aid of man. The only reason bees are found in Alberta is that men keep bringing them there. The question of exotic diseases etc. may make sense where honey bees are able to live unassisted, but in Alberta, the matter is largely irrelevant.



> > By the way, the entire Western Canadian honey business was
> > built on package bees from California, and fortunes were made
> > there too as a result of supplying the North West.
> > Fortunes? Well, maybe decent livings... :)

After a few years of leasing space, apparently the guy bought his own plane to fly the bees to Edmonton (no decent roads in those days), so I assume he did better than just OK

> That's an interesting point, but where is this NOT the case
> where decent honey crops are to be found in Canada?

Southern Ontario reaches as far south as the northern tip of California reaches north.

> In my experience, it makes everyone circle the wagons, and
> refuse to talk outside of court.

The wagons have been circled from the start. Instead of listening to the results of research and opinions from governmental experts gathered by the Alberta association when offered to the CHC about five years back (maybe it was more like ten), the group shouted down the Alberta rep.

Subsequent meetings have been no better, with false arguments and disruptive tactics used to prevent intelligent discussion. The fear mongering and misinformation campaign got so bad that the Saskatchewan association actually tried to bring in legal controls to protect established bee locations, expecting that US beekeepers would soon be invading their turf. Only such action threatened to tear their association apart -- the initiative rewarded older and less competitive beekeepers at the expense of newcomers and those expanding -- did they come to their senses. If they had listened to the Alberta presentation in the first place, they would have known that a US invasion was implausible -- regardless of whether the border prohibitions were simply relaxed or withdrawn -- and saved themselves a lot of grief and infighting.  

Circled wagons? Such a situation is ideal for a well placed handgrenade -- or a skunk. I think I know where we can find a skunk. :)



Today .. A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of afternoon showers or thunderstorms. Risk of a severe thunderstorm. Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming south 20 km/h this afternoon. High 25. UV index 4 or moderate. / Tonight .. Showers. Risk of a thunderstorm this evening. Amount 5 to 10 mm. Wind south 20 km/h becoming north 20 near midnight. Low 9./ Normals for the period .. Low 8. High 22.

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