New Brunswick

New Brunswick's bee population suffers serious blow

Bee populations have been declining in recent years, but a new report says New Brunswick had the second highest rate of wintering losses of honey bee colonies in Canada.

Expert says losing 26.3% of the province's bee population will be costly

A new report says New Brunswick had the second highest rate of wintering losses of honey bee colonies in Canada.

The report from the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists says Ontario lost 58 per cent of its honey bee colonies over the winter, followed by New Brunswick at 26.3 per cent.

The report says 25 per cent of the country's bees did not survive the winter.

"This level of winter loss is considered a high winter loss for most Canadian beekeepers in comparison to long-term acceptable level of winter losses [15 per cent], as described by beekeepers," the report said.

Mike Melanson, a provincial crop development specialist, said the loss of the bee colonies over the winter will be costly.

“Beekeeping, you're always looking at what do you do this year and what will you have for next year, if you need to increase by 50 per cent in order to get a 20 per cent gain, it gets very expensive,” he said.

Melanson said bee experts are hoping that more training and education will help offset future honey bee losses.

“We're looking at bringing in other experts to diagnose various issues, various diseases and helping translate that knowledge to our commercial beekeepers,” he said.

Melanson said there has been some good news for bee colonies so far in 2014.

“We had very good weather during bloom for blueberry pollination so fewer bees were able to do the same amount of work,” he said.

There are efforts in some parts of New Brunswick to encourage the bee population to flourish.

The Crowne Plaza in Fredericton has an urban bee population that was started to make honey for the hotel’s customers.

Geoff Gallant, the hotel’s manager, said the bee population that lives on the hotel’s roof does not just stick around the building all day.

“Tens of thousands of bees come out of here every day and they pollinate about a two-mile radius in the city of Fredericton,” he said.