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Bee populations down in Western Canada

Bee populations down in Western Canada

Beekeepers in Alberta and Saskatchewan reported large losses

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Western Canadian beekeepers blame cold weather for depleted bee populations.

Between 35 and 40 per cent of Saskatchewan’s bees died over the winter and early spring, said Simon Lalonde, president of the Saskatchewan Beekeepers Development Commission.

“It’s an exceptional number (and) beekeepers have to try and take what’s left and rebuild,” he told CBC today. “I think most people will probably be trying to cover expenses this year. It’s going to be a lean year for sure, but that’s agriculture.”

Saskatchewan is home to more than 100,000 bee colonies and 955 beekeepers, Stats Canada reports.

Canola producers could also feel the impacts of a lower bee populations.

Research suggests bee pollination can increase yields and the number of pods per plant, seeds per pod and seed weight, said the Canola Council of Canada.

“Farmers may or may not see an impact there, they may chalk it up to less rain or a hot stretch when they wanted some cooler weather for the crop,” Lalonde told CBC.

Beekeepers in Alberta have also experienced heavy hive losses.

One beekeeper estimates she lost 30 per cent of her hives during the winter.

Cold weather kept bees inside their hives, which makes for an unsanitary environment, said Grace Strom, owner of Greidanus Honey Mill in High River, Alta.

Warmer weather “allows a bee to just pop out for 10 or 20 minutes, take a cleansing flight and return,” she told CBC Thursday. “That is really, really important to the well-being of a bee.”

The lower bee populations will also likely lower honey production this year, Mike DeJong, president of the Alberta Beekeepers Commission, told CBC.