About Me

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My name is Lee Townsend and I am a commercial beekeeper from Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada.  Alongside my father we manage 3100 colonies strictly for honey production, and have been doing so as TPLR Honey Farms Ltd. since 1979.

I don’t proclaim to be an expert or a bee guru, I’m just a beekeeper that wants to help people understand what it is our industry does.  There is so much misinformation about honeybees being quoted as fact that I felt there needed to be some place people could learn about bees at the grass roots level.

I’m not always right, but I’m not against learning and improving myself and my industry.  Those that are closed minded and think they have learned all there is to learn are doomed to failure.

7 Comments

  1. Hi Lee:

    I oversee the Syngenta magazine Thrive. One of our writers, Darcy Maulsby, recently interviewed you for a story that we’re doing on Growing Matters. Our art director, Letizia Albamonte, really likes the photo on your website in the section “About Me.” Could we possibly use this image with the article? If so, could you send me a high res file of it at my email address?

    We greatly appreciate your help with this issue. Darcy will be sending you the copy for your approval soon. If you’d like to view the website affiliated with Thrive, go to http://www.syngentathrive.com.

    Best,
    Susan Fisher
    G&S Business Communications
    (919) 870-5718

  2. john Purdy Reply to john

    I appreciate very much that you took the time to assess the facts and put them together from the beekeeper’s point of view. There are many beekeepers in Ontario who’s bees are doing well and who don’t follow the OBA propaganda.
    The core of the problem for me is the confusion caused among beekeepers about how to detect pesticide poisoning. The symptoms published by the OBA are actually symptoms of bee diseases, particularly paralysis and sacbrood which have been known for a hundred years.
    I am sure that the anti-agriculture anti-industry machine will be responding with all kinds of nonsense, but congratulations and thank you.

    • Lee Townsend Lee Townsend Reply to Lee

      Hi John. I fully agree with you. There is so much confusion/misunderstanding within the beekeeping industry as to what exactly constitutes a pesticide kill and what is a bee disease/pest symptom. Those working for the benefit of the industry as a whole are working hard to discern the two, whereas the activists only push their misguided agenda. I do believe though that science will prevail and we’ll find intelligent solutions to all our problems! Thanks!

  3. Jay Yeman Reply to Jay

    What are your thoughts about the role of pesticides/herbicides/fungicides in bee health? Do you think that these chemicals, while individually safe to bees, are forming a “witch’s brew”? See link to scientific study below:

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0070182#authcontrib

    There’s a lot of conflicting information in the media (sometimes from the same sources)

    http://qz.com/107970/scientists-discover-whats-killing-the-bees-and-its-worse-than-you-thought/

    http://qz.com/101585/everyone-calm-down-there-is-no-bee-pocalypse/

    • Lee Townsend Lee Townsend Reply to Lee

      Hi Jay,

      I firmly believe that there is a connection in bee health between the effects of pesticides/herbicides/fungicides in conjunction with what we as beekeepers are doing to the bees. There has been a lot of good work done in the USA on this, and much more research is needed but the initial results are interesting. Dr. Marion Ellis (now retired from the University of Nebraska) had found that bees can only process so many chemicals at a time before it becomes toxic/lethal to them. For example, if the receptors (I’m not an entomologist, so pardon the terminology) in the bees are already processing miticides we are using on them (fluvalinate, coumaphous, amitraz, etc.) they can have difficulties when exposed to other external chemicals. When you expose them to enough of these products, it’s lethal. This seems to be a bigger problem for those beekeepers that use their colonies for pollination services, but it’s a concern for all beekeepers.

      But I can’t reiterate enough that this chemical exposure isn’t the only cause of poor bee health. If beekeepers are diligent in maintaining strong colonies but also mitigating their exposure to the external chemicals used in Ag, it doesn’t seem to be a big issue. Would zero exposure to these products be ideal? Of course, but that is not a reality in this environment. It’s interesting how those beekeepers not seeing massive losses are also the ones that maintain strong colony health and practice highly progressive forms of bee management. If as much attention was spent on learning what these beekeepers are doing to mitigate the risk as there was on pointing fingers, we’d be seeing a lot more solutions available to our industry.

  4. Ralph Pearce Reply to Ralph

    Lee

    I’m hoping you’ll respond to this quickly (not as a reply on this thread, but directly to me). I’m writing a story for Country, and I’d like to have your comments on a couple of facets of this situation. Please send me an e-mail with your response or you can call direct at 226 – 448 – 4351.

    Thanks for your time.

    Sincerely

    Ralph Pearce
    Contributing Editor
    Country Guide

  5. Hello Lee,

    I am reaching out to on behalf of Bees Matter to invite you to be a part of our 2016 program! Your expertise would lend well to our voice and your content would be a great fit for this. We are looking to create sponsored content around Bees Matter, the Buzzing Garden’s initiative and the relationship between agriculture and pollinators in Canada.

    Please let us know if this is something you would be interested in and we can discuss in further detail!

    We look forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks,
    Geoff Newsome

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