Partnership Supports Alberta Beekeepers in Overcoming Challenges

by Morinville Online Staff

Alberta’s beekeepers are receiving support through a partnership between the Canadian and Alberta governments to address the difficulties they have faced due to extreme cold weather and varroa mite infestations. As Canada’s largest honey-producing province, Alberta depends on bees for their crucial role in pollination and the thriving agricultural industry. However, the winter of 2021-2022 resulted in significant losses, with some beekeepers reporting population declines of up to 50 percent.

The Canada-Alberta Bee Colony Replacement Assistance Initiative has been launched to assist affected beekeepers. Administered by the Agricultural Financial Services Corporation (AFSC), the program provides compensation to eligible commercial beekeepers who purchased replacement colonies, bee packages, or queens between January 1, 2022, and May 1, 2023.

Marie-Claude Bibeau, the federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, emphasized the program’s role in helping beekeepers recover from unexpected colony losses and prepare for future growing seasons.
RJ Sigurdson, Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, recognized the importance of bees to the province’s agriculture industry and expressed confidence in the program’s ability to alleviate costs and meet the global demand for Alberta’s high-quality honey.

The AgriRecovery program follows a federal-provincial-territorial framework, with costs shared on a 60/40 basis between the federal and provincial governments.

Connie Phillips, the executive director of the Alberta Beekeepers Commission, expressed gratitude for the government’s support and emphasized the program’s role in helping eligible producers recover and rebuild a thriving beekeeping industry.

Despite the challenges faced, Alberta remains the leading honey-producing province in Canada, accounting for almost 41 percent of the country’s total honey production. In 2022, Alberta beekeepers produced over 30 million pounds of honey, with international exports totaling $18 million, representing a significant increase of 49.3 percent from the previous year. Japan and the United States were the primary markets for Alberta’s honey exports.

Commercial beekeepers with 100 or more colonies registered under Alberta’s Bee Act are encouraged to apply for compensation to offset extraordinary costs associated with purchased colonies, bee packages, or queens. The deadline for applications is July 31, and they can be submitted online through AFSC Connect, at branch offices, or via fax.

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