Importing honey bees into Ontario
Learn about the requirements for moving bees through Ontario and importing bees or used equipment from other Canadian provinces and outside the country.
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The Bees Act is the legislation that regulates honey bees and beekeeping in Ontario. The main purpose of the Act is to protect the health of honey bees, particularly from pests and diseases.
The Act includes requirements for importing honey bees into Ontario:
- permit required for transport: under section 13 (2), no person shall receive or transport in any manner within Ontario any bees or used beekeeping equipment obtained from outside Ontario without a permit from the provincial apiarist stating the conditions under which such bees or beekeeping equipment may be received or transported within Ontario.
- bees obtained outside Ontario: under section 17, every person who receives bees that have been obtained from outside Ontario shall, within ten days of the receipt of the bees, notify the provincial apiarist that the bees have been received.
Imports from other Canadian provinces
Importation implies that Ontario will be the permanent destination for a shipment.
Get an import permit
Every person intending to import honey bees into Ontario from another Canadian province must apply to the Ontario Provincial Apiarist for an import permit for each shipment.
Email email@example.com for a PDF application form to import bees into Ontario.
All applications must include inspection report(s) issued by the province of origin. The reports must document the results of the inspection(s) of the honey bees to be imported.
Follow the permit conditions
Conditions for import into Ontario may be amended at any time due to changes in the disease status of any jurisdiction or beekeeping operation, or at the discretion of the Provincial Apiarist (of either the exporting province or Ontario).
The following are the minimum conditions established for possible issuance of an Ontario import permit.
Honey bees and/or used beekeeping equipment for import into Ontario
- The importing beekeeper submits an import application to the Ontario Provincial Apiarist in advance of shipment.
- The honey bees and/or used beekeeping equipment to be imported into Ontario must be inspected in the province of origin prior to shipment.
Inspections must be:
- conducted by inspectors appointed under the provincial legislation governing honey bees in the originating province
- conducted within 45 days prior to the intended date of entry into Ontario
Inspection reports must be:
- completed for each inspection
- signed by the provincially appointed inspector from the province of origin
- sent by the Provincial Apiarist (or equivalent) of the province of origin to the Ontario Provincial Apiarist at least seven days prior to shipment
Inspection report(s) received less than seven days prior to shipment may not be processed and potentially result in no issuance of the requested import permit.
- The Provincial Apiarist (or equivalent) of the province of origin must provide the Ontario Provincial Apiarist, at least seven days prior to shipment, with the following documentation associated with the honey bees and/or used beekeeping equipment being imported into Ontario:
- all regulatory orders issued within the previous 24 months
- all pest and disease findings and issues related to the beekeeping operation and corrective measures required by the province of origin's apiary program within the previous 24 months
- All documentation (for example, inspection reports, regulatory orders and pest and disease findings and issues) are reviewed by the Ontario Provincial Apiarist for consideration of import permit issuance. Import permit issuance is subject to the import permit restrictions.
Import permit inspection requirements
The following are the minimum inspection requirements for:
- honey bee colonies, nucleus colonies and honey bee queens
- used beekeeping equipment
Honey bee colonies, nucleus colonies and honey bee queens
For each bee yard (this may be each original source yard or the final loading or marshalling yard) that is supplying colonies for the load to be imported into Ontario:
- A minimum of 10 honey bee colonies or 10% of the total number of colonies in the bee yard (whichever is greater) must have a brood nest inspection and a top bar inspection (completed for the presence of small hive beetle) conducted.
- A minimum of three brood frames must be inspected in each colony receiving a brood nest inspection.
- Top bar inspection (completed for the presence of small hive beetle) must be conducted on an additional 20% of the total number of colonies in the bee yard.
- If American foulbrood (AFB) or European foulbrood (EFB) is found in a colony within a bee yard, brood nest inspections must be conducted on 100% of the colonies in that bee yard.
- A minimum of three colonies per bee yard must be sampled for varroa mites using the standard alcohol wash method. That is, 300 bees per colony must be immersed in alcohol and shaken vigorously for at least two minutes. The number of varroa mites present in the wash against the number of bees sampled is used to calculate the percentage of varroa (for example, 3/300 = 1%).
These are your options for inspection:
- from each yard with 25 colonies: 10 colonies must have a brood nest inspection, a minimum of three of these colonies must be sampled for varroa mites, and an additional five colonies must have a top bar inspection for small hive beetle
- from the final loading yard (made up from the four original yards) with 100 colonies: 10 colonies must have a brood nest inspection, a minimum of three of these colonies must be sampled for varroa mites, and an additional 20 colonies must have a top bar inspection for small hive beetle
If more colonies from other yards are added to the shipment and not already in the loading yard, then the loading yard must be inspected again – covering the newly added colonies.
Used beekeeping equipment
For wax comb in honey supers, a minimum of 10% of the boxes or 70 boxes (whichever is the greater number of boxes) must have a minimum of three frames per box inspected.
For wax comb from the brood nest, dark comb or old honey supers, a minimum of 30% of the boxes or 100 boxes (whichever is the greater number of boxes) must have a minimum of three frames per box inspected.
If symptoms of AFB or EFB are detected in any of the equipment, all boxes (100%) and all frames (100%) must be inspected.
Import permit restrictions
American foulbrood (Paenibacillus larvae) and European foulbrood (Melissococcus plutonius)
American foulbrood (AFB) or European foulbrood (EFB) positive colonies are not allowed to enter Ontario.
AFB or EFB-negative full-sized or nucleus honey bee colonies, honey bee packages or equipment from an AFB or EFB-positive yard may be allowed to enter Ontario as a permanent destination if the bee yard has less than 2% AFB or EFB positive colonies, but no more than 10 positive colonies present.
If negative colonies and/or equipment are allowed to enter Ontario from an AFB or EFB-positive yard, the colonies and/or equipment must be retained at the receiving Ontario bee yard for a period of:
- two years for AFB
- a minimum of 14 days for EFB if a follow-up inspection by the Ontario Apiary Program finds no EFB positive colonies
Resistant American foulbrood
Full-sized or nucleus honey bee colonies, honey bee packages or used beekeeping equipment will not be allowed to enter Ontario as a permanent destination from regions or beekeeping operations where strains of AFB resistant to the antibiotics Oxytetracycline or Tylosin have been detected or there is prior history.
Exceptions may be made for used beekeeping equipment if all (100%) of the equipment is irradiated with cobalt irradiation prior to shipment and documentation, from the irradiation facility, that the irradiation took place is provided to Ontario's Provincial Apiarist. Further conditions may apply.
Varroa mites (Varroa destructor)
No full-sized or nucleus honey bee colonies or honey bee packages with an average varroa level equal to or greater than 2% in the bee yard are allowed to enter Ontario as a permanent destination.
Re-consideration may be given after the colonies undergo treatment for varroa, are re-inspected and the bee yard’s average varroa level is below 2%.
Resistant Varroa mites
Full-sized or nucleus honey bee colonies or honey bee packages will not be allowed to enter Ontario as a permanent destination from a beekeeping operation, county or rural municipality declared by the province of origin where strains of varroa mites resistant to Amitraz have been detected.
Varroa mites resistant to the pesticide Amitraz are considered resistant if the varroa respond to amitraz treatment with less than 80% efficacy by a Pettis or modified Pettis test.
Small Hive Beetle (Aethina tumida)
Honey bee colonies that are positive for Small Hive Beetle (SHB) are not allowed to enter Ontario.
SHB-negative colonies from a SHB-positive yard may be allowed to enter Ontario.
The exporting beekeeper must report to the Ontario Provincial Apiarist all SHB-positive yards from which colonies are to be sourced.
Honey bee colonies from bee yards showing evidence of excessive SHB reproduction and damage will not be allowed to enter Ontario as a permanent destination.
Imports from outside Canada
Full-sized colonies, nucleus colonies, or used hive equipment
Full-sized colonies, nucleus colonies, or used hive equipment (for example, wax comb) are not allowed to enter Ontario from other countries, including the USA.
Honey bee queens or packaged honey bees
Honey bee queens or packaged honey bees entering Ontario from other countries must have a signed import permit from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
The CFIA import permit must be received by the Ontario Provincial Apiarist seven days in advance of entering Ontario for the importing beekeeper to qualify for an Ontario import permit.
Both federal and provincial import permits are required for bees to enter Ontario from outside Canada.
Africanized honey bee genetics
The bee yard of origin must be certified as free from Africanized honey bee genetics as follows:
- Queens and packaged honey bees originate from an apiary free of genes from the sub-Saharan types of Africanized honey bee, Apis mellifera scutellata and/or Apis mellifea capensis; and
- In the past year, based on current maps and surveillance programs for Africanized honey bees, Africanized honey bees have not been detected within 50 miles of any of the apiaries from which the queens and packaged honey bees originate.
Bees travelling through Ontario from other Canadian provinces
Travelling through Ontario implies that Ontario will not be the permanent destination for a shipment.
Shipments must be transported directly and continuously through Ontario.
An Ontario import permit is not required for colonies or nucleus colonies travelling through the province.
Notify the Ontario Provincial Apiarist
The shipping beekeeper (or Provincial Apiarist of the originating province) must notify the Ontario Provincial Apiarist of the transit date and route, in writing, seven days prior to the colonies entering Ontario.
The transit route must not to be modified after notification. Any changes in the transit details must be communicated immediately to the Ontario Provincial Apiarist. Colonies must be secured to the transport vehicle and are not allowed to be removed from the vehicle while travelling through Ontario.
If the transport vehicle is not enclosed, all colonies must be covered with netting from the point of departure in the province of origin until they have travelled through Ontario.
The Provincial Apiarist of the originating province must notify the Ontario Provincial Apiarist if an accident occurs and:
- the honey bee colonies come off the vehicle
- the stability of the load is greatly compromised while in Ontario