Apiculture Team Launched to Strengthen Atlantic’s Honey Bee Population

Please note:  some portions of this release were revised (September 28, 2016)

Perennia Food and Agriculture Inc. is now home to a unique team of specialists focused on strengthening the honey bee population in Atlantic Canada.

The Atlantic Tech Transfer Team for Apiculture (ATTTA) will work with the bee and blueberry industries to review current honeybee management practices across the country and customize it for the region’s more than 38,000 commercial bee colonies and nearly 39,000 hectares of blueberries.

Atlantic Canada is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of wild blueberries.  For the industry to continue to expand, the number of commercial bee colonies needed for pollination will have to increase to nearly 100,000 hives by 2025. Most of this increased demand will be due to the expected expansion of wild blueberry acreage in New Brunswick.  It is anticipated that some of the required additional colonies will be supplied through the sustainable growth of the Maritime beekeeping industry. This project team will support improved productivity in the wild blueberry and beekeeping and pollination industries by helping regional beekeepers improve hive strength and productivity as well as increase pollination efficiency to meet the increasing demand for pollination in wild blueberry fields.

The Government of Canada and the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are investing $355,000 in the team through Growing Forward 2, a five-year, federal-provincial-territorial policy framework to advance the agriculture industry.

Industry organizations that are contributing another $54,000 to the two-year project are, Bleuets NB Blueberries; New Brunswick Beekeepers Association Inc.; Nova Scotia Beekeepers’ Association; Wild Blueberry Producers’ Association of Nova Scotia; Prince Edward Island Wild Blueberry Growers Association; PEI Beekeepers’ Association; Oxford Frozen Foods; and Jasper Wyman and Son.

Quick Facts

  • In Atlantic Canada, in 2015, the blueberry industry had a farm gate value of over $83 million.  This number more than doubles when processing revenue is factored in.
  • Average bee hive densities for pollinating a blueberry field in the Atlantic Region are between one and two hives per acre. By increasing the density to three hives per acre, blueberry yields may be increased by 0.4 tonnes / acre which translate into an increase of over $40M for the wild blueberry industry.
  • Apiculturists Robyn McCallum and Cameron Menzies will work with an industry-led committee to focus on honey bee health, nutrition, diseases, pests and over-wintering based on industry best practices.
  • Perennia Food and Agriculture Inc. is a provincially owned development company that works with farmers, fishermen, processors and food entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.  Services are offered in field services, quality and food safety, product development and commercialization.

Quotes

Bees play a vital role in keeping Canadian agriculture strong. The federal Government welcomes the opportunity to partner with industry and share best practices for a healthy bee population to support farmers, grow the industry and our overall economy.
– Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

This level of co-operation between governments and industry demonstrates what can happen when we need to tackle a key issue in our agriculture sector. A thriving bee population is incredibly important to ensure our wild blueberries are pollinated. The work done by this team to share information and research with producers is a key part of the ongoing health of both our apiculture and wild blueberry sectors.
– Jo Ann Fewer, CEO Perennia Food and Agriculture Inc.

This team at Perennia will provide leadership and share information that can help keep our bee population healthy so that it supports the economic benefits of the agriculture industry.
– Keith Colwell, Nova Scotia Agriculture Minister.

The strength of our honeybee population is directly related to the strength of our agriculture sector. When government and industry work together, with collaboration between jurisdictions, the result is a stronger, more sustainable industry for all parties.
– Rick Doucet, New Brunswick Minister of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries

The province of Prince Edward Island recognizes the important role that a healthy honey bee industry plays in wild blueberry production and is pleased to be a partner in this regional initiative.
– Alan McIsaac, Prince Edward Island Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries

 

Contacts

Lynne Godlien
Perennia Food and Agriculture Inc.
902 678-7722, ext 229
lgodlien@perennia.ca

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