Province looking to increase bee population for pollination

The province is launching a new program that will help expand the Island's bee population and increase pollination.

Program would provide financial assistance for new and existing beekeepers

The province wants to increase Island bee colonies available for fruit crop pollination.

The province of Prince Edward Island is looking for a few good beekeepers to expand the Island's bee population and increase pollination through a new program.

The Pollination Expansion Program would assist with the purchase of new hives for existing beekeepers and for those looking to get into the industry.

Right now, there are 46 beekeepers on the Island responsible for about 6,300 hives.

"We are looking at having a more diverse agricultural crop sector here in P.E.I., so some of the crops that we're seeing that are increasing do have a requirement of pollination," said Sebastian Ibarra, an agri-environmental specialist with the province.

"We're hoping that with increasing the pollination capacity, those crops will have access to the bees needed to pollinate them," he said. 

Hives cost $300 to $600

Under the program, the province would help pay for new hives, bees and frames as well as funding education required for new beekeepers.

Right now there are 46 Island beekeepers across the province who look after more than 4,300 beehives. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

"One hive could cost anywhere between $300 to $600 depending on where you get your equipment and your bees," explained Ibarra.

"Some of these crops wouldn't produce fruit if they weren't visited by bees, so that's why they're essential. They are vital," he added.

There are requirements to be considered for the program — beekeepers must be 19 or older and must provide colonies for wild blueberries or other fruit crops. They must also have a minimum of five years of beekeeping experience, be employed by a beekeeper for at least five years or be enrolled in a commercial beekeeping course.

'What the risks are' 

Applicants need to submit an expansion plan for their operation outlining the number of current and proposed new hives.

Beekeepers will have to provide colonies for wild blueberry or other fruit crops to be eligible for financial assistance through the new program. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

If the applicant is a new beekeeper, they have to show how they would get the required experience.

Where the additional bees and hives will come from still hasn't been determined.

The province is looking at the risks of importing bees from other provinces before the program takes flight, Ibarra said.

"There's certain pests that can affect negatively the industry, and we're looking at where those pests are, and what is the risk of establishment and exposure before we make a decision," he said.


Tom Steepe

Video Journalist

Tom Steepe is an award-winning video journalist with CBC P.E.I.