Bee ban questioned by N.S. blueberry grower
A blueberry grower is questioning the Nova Scotia law banning the importation of honey bees after a large produce company received special permission for an exemption.
Oxford Frozen Foods rented thousands of hives of Ontario bees this year under a special permit for a pilot project.
Bud Weatherhead, the owner of Rainbow Farms Ltd. in Upper Rawdon, said he didn't know about that option and wants the Nova Scotia government to drop its bee ban next year.
"We are certainly hoping so," he told CBC News.
Rainbow Farms, a growing and processing operation with fields in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, has had a problem at its Hants County location because there aren’t enough honey bees to pollinate low-bush wild blueberries.
Weatherhead has said he has enough honey bees to cover approximately 80 hectares of 280 hectares at his Upper Rawdon farm.
While his fields were filled with healthy buds and white flowers this year, Weatherhead said his blueberry harvest has been disappointing.
"The berries that did develop are very, very small and they did not develop. They will eventually fall off, a lot of them did already," he told CBC News.
"The pollination was not good because there are just not enough bees to do the pollinating."
But Paul Dickie, the president of the Nova Scotia Beekeepers' Association, said his members do not want Nova Scotia's border opened to foreign bees.
"When you pipeline the bees right from Ontario down to here, it's just like a conveyor belt, bringing them in there," he said.
Many local bee keepers are worried about importing the small hive beetle, said Dickie.
"If you only test 10 per cent, there's still 90 per cent that hasn't been tested and it only takes one or two beetles to infect the whole province," he said.
Nova Scotia government officials said the pilot project will be evaluated to see if it will allow more out-of-province bees to work in Nova Scotia.