Ottawa-area beekeepers see sweet resurgence this spring

Beekeepers are applauding fewer losses in Ottawa-Gatineau this spring as the bounce-back season comes following a long, cold winter and a bad spring in 2013.

Half of bees killed off in spring 2013 due to pesticide, beekeepers say

Beekeepers in the Ottawa area anticipate a bounce-back season for their bees after a devastating spring in 2013, which saw some beekeepers lose half of their bee population.

Beekeeper Mike Kositsin, who runs Ottawa Valley Honey near Arnprior, has struggled to keep his bees alive and healthy over the past few years.

It's been a similar story for many Ontario beekepers, which is why the province is providing one-time financial assistance of $105 per hive to beekeepers who lose more than 40 per cent of their bee colonies.

But Kositsin's hives have only suffered 15 per cent losses this spring, which brought his numbers back to normal, he said.

“Fewer dead bees this year is feeling like a normal year,” he said.

He said a typical spring loss is between five and 10 per cent but last year, Kositsin saw half of the bees die. He called this year’s improved numbers a “head-scratcher”.

It’s even more confusing since some thought a long, cold winter could also be a detriment to the bees.

Tempered excitement for Quebec beekeeper

Pierre Lebel of Masham, Que., also noticed the higher bee population on his farm this spring, but he isn’t too excited about the season’s prospects.

"This hive is in perfect health and it's going to give wonderful honey, they already have some," said Lebel. “Last year was quite difficult, I would say this year looks good so far.”

Kositsin said it’s tough to find the actual reason for losses because it takes a whole season to test one factor, and there are many variables.

Regardless of the dead bees, Kositsin said they recreate very fast and that helped after last year’s tough season.

“As long as you have bees, you can make more bees,” he said.


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