By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday September 12, 2013
Huge honey bee losses across Canada dash hopes of upturn
Manitoba, New Brunswick and Ontario suffer highest death rates
When Allan Campbell opened his hives this spring, he expected a buzzing horde of bees to greet him. Instead, he found that four out of every five hives were filled with clumps of dead bees.
“It’s very de-motivational when you’re just cleaning up all this death,” said Campbell, who owns a bee farm in Dauphin, Man., and heads the Manitoba Beekeepers Association. “For all the work you do, you’re no further ahead. You’re behind.”
Manitoba lost 46 per cent of its honey bee colonies over the past winter, a record rate for the province that makes it the worst hit province in the country, according to a recently released report by the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists (CAPA).
But those devastating losses are just one part of a bleak picture across Canada. Nation-wide, the winter mortality rate rose to about 29 per cent of honey bee colonies, nearly double the deaths in the winter prior.
It’s a setback that is dashing hopes raised last year by a low national rate of honey bee deaths — 15 per cent. Beekeepers were optimistic that the low mortality might herald a return to the average and more manageable losses the industry used to see.
“Last year, we were hoping we were going to be going into a trend as a country toward lower losses,” said Rhéal Lafrenière, Manitoba’s provincial apiarist and the president of CAPA.
A 15 per cent loss rate used to be the average and is considered an acceptable percentage of bees left dead or unproductive over the winter period. That’s changed in the past decade as the new norm has been closer to 25 per cent, says Lafrenière.
“It’s getting to a point where we’re getting used to these higher losses.” (Source: CBC News)