Saskatchewan Examiner

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Beekeepers in Saskatchewan are reporting a population decline

Saskatchewan beekeepers are reporting a decline in bee population.

Key Takeaways:

  • There’s a buzz in the air as beekeepers in Saskatchewan get ready for honey bee season throughout the country.
  • A little parasite that attaches to honey bees and feeds on them has also been a source of concern. Varroa mites, an external parasite of adult honey bees, were abundant in the fall.

With honey bee season starting, there’s a buzz in the air as beekeepers in Saskatchewan and throughout the country get to work.

However, the beekeeping community is concerned because some operators have reported greater honey bee mortality rates in the province.

Hamilton Apiaries, located just north of Regina, is one Saskatchewan enterprise with a higher than usual mortality rate.

After a solid beginning to the season the previous winter, Andrew Hamilton, owner and operator of Hamilton Apiaries, stated that 2021 was a fantastic year for many beekeepers in Saskatchewan.

However, the scenario does not appear to be as favorable this year.

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“There are some good ones this year, a bunch in the middle, and some awful ones,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton revealed that 18% of his honey bee hives died throughout the winter. He’s used to lessening losses on his farm, but he’ll take the loss considering what he’s heard from others in the sector.

“I know a few beekeepers who lost everything, and a lot who lost 50%, so I’m more than satisfied,” he said. “We had one yard that lost 60% of its value, but we also had many extremely good yards.”

So, why are there more bee colonies dying this year than last year? Hamilton believes that a cool spring, particularly cold spells in April, is the primary cause of honey bee losses. He claimed that the bees could not get started as early as usual.

“At the beginning of April, people were looking at their hives and thinking, ‘OK, I’ve got 10 hives.’ They only had five by the end of April.”

According to Simon Lalonde, a member of the Saskatchewan Beekeepers Development Commission’s board of directors, Saskatchewan’s mortality rate is often between 15 and 20%.

Saskatchewan beekeepers are reporting a decline in bee population.
Saskatchewan beekeepers are reporting a decline in bee population. Image from CBC News

He anticipates a final death rate of 30 to 40% in the province.

“Many factors have harmed honey bees, including mites and a long, harsh winter, not to mention a lack of spring to allow the bees to bulk up.” All of this is causing the bees to move backward.”

A little parasite that attaches itself to honey bees, as well as feeds on them, has also been a concern. Varroa mites, an external parasite of adult honey bees, were abundant in the fall. They had a devastating impact on beekeepers across the province, particularly Hamilton Apiaries.

“We can surely try to control the mites and handle the bees as best.” “That’s where a lot of the effort is right now,” Lalonde remarked.

Beekeepers like Hamilton remain optimistic despite the losses, citing increased bee populations and high honey prices, which do not appear to be dropping anytime soon as demand grows.

“They’re on their way back.” Every day, they improve and progress,” Hamilton added. “I require a lot of warm, sunny days as well as a lot of pollen.” So I’m holding out hope.”

Source: Global News

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