A combination of wet and cold weather this summer means bees have struggled to fly and flowers have struggled to produce nectar, contributing to poor honey yields among Alberta apiaries.
The Alberta Beekeepers Commission represents 178 commercial beekeepers and its executive director, Connie Phillips, said they’re hearing that on average, beekeepers are bringing in about half of their usual honey yield.
The commission launched a survey to get a better understanding from beekeepers on the losses they are expecting and whether they are using insurance programs put in place as a safety net for when losses occur.
“Out of everyone that responded, 100 per cent said they were all below their three-year average with their honey crop,” said Phillips. “More than half of the those that responded were at 50 per cent or more of a loss.”
Richard Ozero, co-owner of Good Morning Honey, located in Parkland County, is one beekeeper seeing losses this year. He said originally hopes were high back in May that this year would yield more honey, especially since last year saw less yield because of smoke from the B.C. wildfires.
But, the wet weather in June, July and August quickly dampened those hopes.
“The wet weather was stopping the bees from flying and gathering nectar,” said Ozero. “The cool conditions were stopping the flowers from being able to produce the nectar for the bees to gather in the first place.”
For Ozero, his honey yield is down 40 per cent this year.
“It doesn’t matter what your yield is, your input costs and bills are all going to be the same. So it’s really a time of concern for a lot of beekeepers,” said Ozero.
He added it hasn’t helped either that in recent months the global honey price has been soft.
Barbara Sorenson, who owns True North Apiary, located in Leduc County, also had struggles with her honey yield this year.
“We’re running about half the honey that we normally would on a normal year,” said Sorenson.
Normally Sorenson’s colonies yield about 150 pounds of honey but this year they brought in about 70 pounds.
She also saw other issues thanks to the wet weather.
“We did find there were more swarms this year, the bees weren’t quite as pleasant as they normally are, a low honey production, and queens were having a harder time going out and being mated when they needed to,” said Sorenson.
For Ozero, he doesn’t want to put too much “doom and gloom” on the situation, but he also doesn’t want to undersell it, either.
“It’s a really hard year for many, many beekeepers, and if we don’t see change next year, it could be even tougher.”
Phillips said there could be a shortage of Alberta honey.
“Alberta is Canada’s largest honey producer, somewhere between 41 to 43 per cent of our honey in Canada gets produced here, so you have half that much,” said Phillips. “It could have an impact on markets.”
She added the commission plans to meet with the minister of agriculture in October to discuss the industry’s current struggles.
Source – https://edmontonsun.com