Quebec beekeepers call for emergency aid over bee deaths from parasite

A TikTok star beekeeper has come under fire after a bee removal specialist criticized her 'dangerous' methods. (Valengilda/Getty Images/CNN)

The fears of Quebec beekeepers have come to pass -- a mortality rate among their bees that's three times higher than the average.

To help them withstand the shock, they are asking for emergency aid from the federal and provincial governments.

Members of the Beekeepers and Beekeepers of Quebec (AADQ) have recorded, on average, a mortality rate of 60 per cent in their hives, the association revealed at a press conference on Wednesday.

Over the past five years, this rate has hovered around 21 per cent in the province.

The long summer in 2021 created the right conditions for the spread of Varroa, a parasite that attacks bees. AADQ President Raphaël Vacher described the situation as "historic" and "critical."

Given these conditions, Vacher is calling for joint federal and provincial emergency aid of $12 million to help beekeepers, most of whom have lost more than half of their bees.

"Imagine the disastrous consequences on 'their] liquidity. The business loses its income, but it has the same expenses. If there is no state intervention, it is certain that we risk losing these companies," he said.

Government support would allow companies to restock their hives in hopes of a "more normal" season in 2023, he said.

The federal and provincial ministers of agriculture could not immediately be reached for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 18, 2022.

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