New Brunswick

Bee populations rebound in New Brunswick

Beekeepers across New Brunswick say colonies have bounced back after a devastating year in 2009.
Claude Hachey, a Bathurst beekeeper, said bee populations are rebounding in 2010 after a devastating year in 2009. ((Alison Northcott/CBC))
Beekeepers across New Brunswick say colonies have bounced back after a devastating year in 2009.

Last spring, many found their bees had died over the winter, but things are looking up this year, beekeepers say.

"The bees seem to be really rebounding this year," said Claude Hachey, a honey producer from Bathurst.

"We're having a really hard time keeping up. Mind you, that could change in a week or two, but I haven't seen bees this vigorous in a couple of years now."

The past few years have meant costly losses for New Brunswick's beekeepers, in part because of a parasitic mite known as the varroa destructor, which attacks honeybees.

The mite problem was addressed last winter, says provincial apiarist Chris Maund.

"A lot of the reason why the winter losses have decreased, at least in my opinion, is emergency registration of a miticide called Apivar, which has better control of the verroa mite," Maund said.

Beekeeper George Wheatley said the rebound is also thanks to the weather. A mild winter and early spring have given the bees a better chance to thrive.

"We had a really good April. Once you get that, they get a critical mass of bees and nothing can hold them back. They just keep building."

Beekeeper George Wheatley says his bees are thriving this year thanks to good weather and the elimination of a parasite. ((CBC))
Honeybees pollinate about 35 per cent of the food we eat. As their numbers began to dwindle in recent years, the public and the media took notice.

Wheatley said he is now doing a thriving business selling starter kits to budding Maritime beekeepers.

"They've heard that the bees are in trouble and it's more to find ways of increasing the population of the bees and looking after them," he said.

Bees are even checking in to a luxury hotel in downtown Moncton.

"It's sort of a little partnership between the Delta Beausejour and the honeybees," said hotel manager Pat DesBrisay.

The hotel has started a rooftop garden to provide fresh produce in its restaurants and is keeping one hive to pollinate the plants and produce honey.