Federal agency stands firm against importing U.S. bees

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has completed a risk assessment report that concludes Canada's beekeeping industry, worth nearly $2 billion a year, remains exposed to four serious risks from the U.S., including Africanized honeybees and medication-resistant pests. The CFIA released the report late last week and asked for comments. It ordered the report after commercial beekeepers in Manitoba and Alberta asked the federal government to open the border after devastating winter losses that put Canada's pollination industry in peril.

Canada closed the border to U.S. packages in 1987 as a result of the outbreak of two different mites. In 1993, it began allowing honeybee queens to be imported from the U.S. but has banned starter packages, which contain upwards of 10,000 bees.

Canada allows package and queen imports from New Zealand, Chile and Australia, which CFIA says do not have problems of Africanized bees, small hive beetle, medication-resistant mites and American Foulbrood, a virulent spore disease.

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