Wedderspoon spearheading petition to protect honeybees

As a company that relies heavily on its honey-based products for success, it’s no surprise that the folks at Wedderspoon Organics here in Duncan are stepping up to the plate and advocating for honeybees.

Though they source most of their honey from New Zealand, the rapid decline of North America’s bee population is of great concern to Sebastien Martin and his employees.

“While being in the honey business, Wedderspoon also owns a certified organic herb farm in B.C., which hosts millions of bees gathering nectar from its various organic crops and produces herbs and vegetables sold to the local stores,” Martin, the company’s co-founder explained.

Seven years ago he organized a presentation about Canada’s use of neonicotinoids — a type chemical pesticide that has been linked to mass bee die-offs — and to his surprise, the majority of enthusiast beekeepers at the meeting were not aware of the impact they were having on bee stocks. Ever since, he’s been working hard within the province to gain support for a ban.

The impacts of neonicotinoids stretch much farther than the death of bees, reaching well into the realms of significantly disabling agricultural, farming, and food systems, Martin said.

“Without the bees, honey and jams would come off your breakfast table amongst other staple items,” he said. “While facing climate change issues which are affecting crops all over the world, it would be a disservice to our fellow Canadians and British Columbians to ignore the subject.”

Wedderspoon has set up a petition at change.org  (http://chn.ge/19D8HWF), asking Premier Christy Clark to ban neonicotinoids within the province.

“It is important to us to support the ban of such chemicals since it’s in our opinion that such issues should become a priority to Ms. Clark as, like everyone else in B.C., she still shops for her groceries and needs to eat many produce items that bees do pollinate,” Martin said.

Support for the petition has been significant with more than 11,300 digital signatures already. But it’s not enough for Martin.

“As a business person, I am always driven to reach higher goals and while Ontario has reached over 50,000 signatures with their petition, we only have 11,300 votes for a province of 4.4 million of people. This petition does not cost anything to sign, takes one minute of your time while the information provided is kept private and not redistributed,” he said. “I would hate to believe that B.C. people have become completely apathetic to the idea of supporting this movement rather than being an issue of not being aware of the situation.”

The awareness and education campaign continues to grow.

“We have been in contact with organizations Canada-wide and are actively promoting the cause through our social media channels and petition resources,” said Wedderspoon spokeswoman Holly Douglas. “However, we believe approaching news media with information about the issue will further help us achieve the goal of not only educating the public about neonicotinoids, but outright banning them in the near future.”