Edmonton District Beekeepers Association
April 14, 2016
Honourable Oneil Carlier
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry
Office of the Minister
Agriculture and Forestry
229 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
To: The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry
Re: Inspection Requirements for Moving Honey Bees into Alberta and Hybrid Canola Pollination in Southern Alberta in Spring 2016.
The Edmonton District Beekeepers Association (EDBA) would like to voice its support for Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s protocol on the movement of hives between BC and Alberta and within Alberta. This protocol was drafted due to the discovery of small hive beetle in BC.
EDBA is composed of over 100 small-scale beekeepers who generally live within two hours of Edmonton. We have operated as a club since ???. Our members sell at many of the farmers markets within and around Edmonton and are supplying many residents of the area with honey via farm gate sales. Although we do not produce as much honey as commercial beekeepers, 100% of our honey is sold locally. We contribute significantly to the local economy and our direct-to-consumer sales means it is really us, the small-scale beekeepers, who are the public face of Alberta’s beekeepers.
EDBA is concerned about preventing the spread of SHB to Alberta for two main reasons:
- While larger operations may have the capacity to extract their honey immediately and render their wax daily, this is often more difficult for smaller operations to do, due to their lack of expensive processing equipment. Because of our limited capacity to quickly process honey and wax, SHB may impact the small-scale operations in Alberta more significantly than large operations.
- In the last two years the number of beekeepers in our region has exploded. Our club is being inundated with new beekeepers, almost all of whom are ill-equipped to identify or control the small hive beetle. Were the SHB to make it to Alberta, this surge in beginner beekeeper numbers poses a risk to all operations, large or small, who share the same area as them.
As hobbyists, we support the proposed protocol because we agree it will help protect our hives from the small hive beetle. As we see it, there are two potential ways SHB could enter the hives in this area:
- Via migratory beekeeping operations. There are beekeepers in our region who move their hives south for pollination contracts. While in the South, their bees may be mixing with bees that were overwintered in SHB-infected areas of BC. When they move their hives back here at the end of the pollination season it is possible they may bring SHB to our region. Having a north-south control zone will give us additional assurance that our hives will remain SHB-free because the bees that overwintered in BC will be checked twice for SHB.
- Via BC nucs purchased by hobbyists. Hobbyists who purchase BC nucs are generally beginner beekeepers. They are not well-equipped to identify or control SHB. EDBA hopes the current protocol does enough to mitigate the risk of SHB entering our hives via this route. We would be in support of additional measures for nucs.
With bees already very much in the media, we think it is prudent for the Alberta government to take precautionary steps to limit the spread of SHB. It seems every Albertan who watches the news or reads the paper is concerned about the plight of the honeybee. Given the current attention being paid to honeybees, it is our hope that SHB does not reach Albertan beekeepers due to inaction by our government.
EDBA Board Member’s signatures.