The Government of Canada is investing more than $244,000 in the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association with the aim of helping the beekeeping industry find new ways to respond to a decline in honey bee colony populations, Agriculture Canada announced 29 June 2011. Funding for this project is being provided by the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP). In Ontario, CAAP is delivered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC).
The project aims to help beekeepers secure sustainable honey harvests and provide essential pollination services to the fruit and vegetable industry.
Approximately 7,000 beekeepers in Canada operate a total of 600,000 colonies of honeybees, according to the Honey Council’s statistics on the Canadian apiculture industry, with approximately 475,000 colonies in the prairie provinces that produce 80% of Canada’s honey crop. Funding of this new project reflects Agriculture Canada’s recognition of the ecological and economic impacst of declining bee populations “due to disease, pest resistance to treatment methods, and increased demand on honey bee colonies to provide pollination services.” The estimated value of honey bees to crop pollination in Canada is over $2 billion.
“The partnership formed between the AAC, and Ontario Beekeepers Association will ensure beekeepers are able to manage genetics, pests and nutrition according to their business objectives,” said Les Eccles, OBA Tech Transfer Program Lead Specialist. “Providing management strategies specific to the beekeepers goals will give more sustainable and consistent results.”
Led by the universities of Guelph and Manitoba, the program will develop a breeding program that will result in honey bees that have the ability to resist pests and diseases. It will also screen new products for pest and disease control and develop best management practices relating to pollination colonies. Ultimately, the project will provide beekeepers — not only in Ontario, but, through knowledge transfer, all across Canada — with the ability to have better control of colony genetics and health in order to have consistent honey production and pollination services.
Photo: Bee with Apple Blossom by Flickr user sociotard