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Difficult Season Ahead for Alberta Beekeepers

Alberta's beekeeping industry is facing some very difficult times.  Many beekeepers suffered major hive losses over the winter and into this spring. 
 
The COVID-19 lock down meant flights that would normally bring shipments of new bees from foreign countries, were cancelled.  And the COVID situation also impacted the number of temporary foreign workers arriving in Canada to help with caring for hives.  As a result of the "perfect storm" many beekeepers say they're done.  
 
"What were hearing so far is a range of anywhere from 20% all the way up to 90%, all over the province," comments Connie Phillips Executive Director of the Alberta Beekeepers Commission about the number of losses over the winter. "On average, a couple weeks ago when we were collecting a few numbers at that point, we were thinking the average might be 60% overall.  
 
Phillips goes on to say that there were many factors for the bee losses. "There's a few factors, I believe, involved.  Last year was really hard on the bees because of all the wet weather.so they just weren't working as hard and not producing honey.  As of result of that, wet weather coming into the fall, it just keeps the hives wet and provides the opportune foundation for the varroa mite to flourish and the different viruses, that may or may not be related to the varroa mite."  Phillips also notes that beekeepers were seeing viruses that are typically not seen in our area which caused some hives to go into winter earlier than expected.  Another factor was the spring was longer and colder than usual which meant that bees will stay in the hives instead of going out to feed.  This, in turn, causes them to starve due to the cold weather.
 
As things warm up, here's hoping the bees will be out and things will improve for the province's beekeepers and bee population.
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