By Marg Land
July 15, 2014, McLennan, AB – A Canada-wide honeybee health surveillance study will be completed in Canada to document the health of Canadian honeybees.
The Alberta Beekeepers Commission, representing 60 per cent of the honey crop in Canada, submitted the grant proposal to conduct a Canada-wide honeybee health surveillance study. The grant was approved by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and will benefit beekeepers in every province.
“The Alberta Beekeepers Commission is pleased to receive the support of the Federal Government to monitor honeybee health across Canada, for the benefit of the whole Canadian beekeeping industry,” says Grant Hicks, president, Alberta Beekeepers Commission.
Currently, Canada does not have a national bee health surveillance program in place. This study will build on the surveillance that’s been completed at a regional level and will provide crucial information to continue to look at all factors affecting honeybee health.
“A functioning national research strategy will allow Canada’s commercial beekeepers to meet the growing pollination needs of various stakeholder groups, as well as produce a surplus of exportable Canadian honey,” says Hicks.
There are a number of diseases that could have devastating impacts on hives that can often go undetected by beekeepers because of their complexity. The study will help to detect these types of diseases that really can only be found in a lab.
Samples will be collected from all 10 provinces and analyzed for the most common bee pests and diseases. In addition, apiaries will be sampled for high-risk exotic pests.
The study will be led by Dr. Carlos Castillo and his team at the National Bee Diagnostic Centre in Beaverlodge, Alberta, and will be completed over four years.
Canadian beekeepers are currently challenged with a variety of factors impacting bee health that threaten not only the industry, but Canada’s ability to pollinate crops and produce food.
The project will document the distribution and intensity of known and potential diseases, pests and parasites in Canada’s commercial beekeeping industry. This information is currently lacking, and is needed to continue to explore science-based solutions to protect honeybees.
Funding for the study will come from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriMarketing Program, an initiative under Growing Forward 2. Additional funding partners include: CropLife Canada, the Alberta Beekeepers Commission and the Manitoba Beekeepers Association.
“Our industry relies on pollinators for healthy crops. We are committed to working with all stakeholders to further explore the factors impacting bee health to come to science-based solutions so both beekeeping and farming can thrive,” says Pierre Petelle, vice-president of chemistry at CropLife Canada.
“The Manitoba Beekeepers Association proudly supports this initiative with the Alberta Beekeepers Commission. This represents a necessary and proactive approach to ascertain a comprehensive and national view of the overall health of the beekeeping industry which affects all beekeepers, from the hobbyist to the largest commercial businesses,” says Allan Campbell, president, Manitoba Beekeepers Association.