Blueberry producers stung by bee shortage

A new report says P.E.I. blueberry growers are facing a potential crisis. The study confirms there aren't enough bees on the Island to pollinate the blueberry plants.

Last summer Island blueberry growers asked the provincial government to open its borders to bees from the mainland. But P.E.I. beekeepers were concerned about imported bees bringing in new diseases, so the province commissioned an independent study.

The study says by the year 2005 the blueberry acreage will double and there won't be nearly enough bees. But the authors of the study agree that P.E.I. should keep its border closed to keep out bee-mites.

Leonard Eaton, who wrote the report, says a better solution is to expand the bee industry on P.E.I. with financial help from the province.

Eaton says P.E.I. also needs to come up with a pollination strategy. "We're suggesting the joint pollination committee, which is already set up, be appointed to draft a plan to develop a pollination strategy for the Island and to do that within the province as much as possible."

The joint pollination committee will assess the study and take their recommendations to government.