PEI

New money for P.E.I. beekeepers

P.E.I. Minister of Agriculture George Webster announced a new $100,000 financial assistance program for beekeepers Wednesday, called the Honey Bee Development Initiative.

P.E.I. Minister of Agriculture George Webster announced a new $100,000 financial assistance program for beekeepers Wednesday, called the Honey Bee Development Initiative.

"The honey bee industry is an important link in our agriculture industry as it provides pollination services to a variety of crops such as blueberries and canola. Improving the viability of the honey bee industry can have dramatic impacts on yields in blueberry production," said Minister Webster.

The program is designed to foster commercial development of a local honeybee industry, increase the number of bees bred on the Island, adapt the bees’ gene pool to local conditions and create a colony-tracking system.

New employees at beekeeping operations who show potential for increased effectiveness will also be trained to identify and manage disease.

Applicants are required to make their colonies available for pollination services within the province.

P.E.I.’s need for bees has grown as a result of the expansion of its wild blueberry industry in recent years. At the moment, the province imports nearly half its colony requirements, much of it from nearby Nova Scotia.

Its own bees have suffered a decline due to disease and difficult winters.

Island blueberry farmers pay $700,000 annually for pollination services.