A growing blueberry industry on P.E.I. has prompted the government to allow the importing of honey bees from more places than just Nova Scotia.

John Burhoe of Island Gold Honey, who has been keeping bees for 20 years, said the local bee industry was just not able to keep up with the blueberry growers.

"The number of colonies that are required will likely top out at about 15,000," said Burhoe.

"This year local beekeepers supplied about 6,000, so you can see where that's going."


Without enough bees some blueberry flowers never get pollinated. (Denis Calnan/CBC)

Chris Jordan, provincial berry crop development officer, said the lack of bees is hurting production on the province's 2,400 hectares of blueberry land.

"Because blueberry growers are not able to get enough honeybees it really is hindering their total maximum production that they can obtain, and that means major dollars for the industry," said Jordan.

Importing bees from Ontario and other provinces comes with a risk, however. It will open P.E.I. up to more disease. Burhoe said beekeepers will just have to deal with that.

"We as beekeepers can't hold the blueberry growers hostage in trying to keep the border closed and restrict the number of colonies coming in," he said.

"At the same token we want the blueberry growers to show a little bit of respect to the beekeepers on the Island."

As part of that, blueberry growers will be ordered to send the imported bees back where they came from after the bees have pollinated the crop. That will ensure imported bees don't compete with the Island honey industry.