P.E.I. beekeepers remain upbeat amid massive bee die-offs around the country

·3 min read
Hives are emerging following what's been a cold spring for the Island. (Submitted by Troy Fraser - image credit)
Hives are emerging following what's been a cold spring for the Island. (Submitted by Troy Fraser - image credit)

Beekeepers in P.E.I. are heading into their busy season with a positive attitude even though the cold weather has been drawn out and there have been massive bee die-offs elsewhere in the country.

Hives are emerging following what's been a cold spring for the Island, which means honey farms are behind their usual schedule, according to P.E.I. Beekeepers Association president Troy Fraser.

"Mother Nature dictates everything," Fraser said. "We're just waiting for the dandelions to pop up and, in that way, the bees can start foraging more actively and the queen can start laying and things can really start kicking off."

While most beekeepers expect to lose some of their bees during the colder months of the year, 2022 proved to be particularly bad.

Beekeepers in other regions of Canada, specially in the West, have been reporting massive losses in the bee population, with some saying the industry is poised to lose hundreds of millions of dollars this year due to a huge drop in the bee population.

Fraser said beekeepers in P.E.I. have also experienced some of those losses.

"The trending situation with bee losses has hit everyone to a certain extent, myself a little more than others," he said.

"However, this is … something that happens with beekeeping. You have to bounce back from it."

Submitted by Ramin Abdollahi
Submitted by Ramin Abdollahi

Fraser didn't want to say how many bees he's lost, but beekeepers in other parts of Canada have told CBC News they have lost up to 90 per cent of their hives this winter.

'It's going to get better'

But, despite the losses, Fraser is looking to expand and has recently acquired over 100 colonies from Nova Scotia.

Other beekeepers said they're even more optimistic.

Canoe Cove Honey beekeeper Mickael Jauneau said his business was "pretty lucky" not to have lost many hives this winter.

"It's kind of like an average year for us," he said. "The spring was really cold. But it seems like it's going to get better and better. So we're keeping our fingers crossed for a good season."

Jauneau said beekeepers now have to make a push to finish their work because of the cold spring weather.

"Today it's really nice and warm and the bees must be flying like crazy, but [things are] a week or two behind compared to last year. So it's usually easier when it's warmer earlier."

'It's just the nature of it'

Todd Dyment recently finished an online beekeeping course and said he may turn his interest into "a bit of a business" once he gets his bees in July.

He said hearing about all the massive die-offs gives him pause as someone who is just starting out, but he said this sort of thing is par for the course in the profession.

"When we were doing the course, one of the sessions was on diseases and pests that you have to try to manage, and that was pretty intimidating," he said.

"There's a lot of things to keep an eye out for when you raise bees. But I'm still excited."

Meanwhile, campaigns meant to raise awareness about the plight of the bees have started rolling out in some Island communities. Last week, Stratford handed out lawn signs encouraging people to nourish bees by planting gardens.

"It's good to know that people are out there, supporting that effort and placing signs in their yard," Fraser said.

"Maybe it's a good excuse to not mow the lawn in May and… sit back and just enjoy the grass, and everything that pops up with us."

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