When Bees go Bad




Signage when crossing into Nova Scotia

What’s new in Nova Scotia you might ask? Well of it’s hard to ignore that there has been a great deal of controversy this year regarding the decision by the province to allow hives for pollination to be imported from Ontario. Some of this has even spilled into the local and national media.

Why the controversy? Pests. The province of Ontario due to its proximity to the USA has been exposed to a hive destroying pest called “Small Hive Beetle (SHB)”. Nova Scotia so-far has been spared the potential carnage, and the province has had restrictions in place to protect our livestock for decades. Naturally there are exceptions to the rules, which mostly revolve around beekeepers like myself importing package bees from federally designated countries where no SHB infestation exists (Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Chile). But in this case the issue is that we have a very large Blueberry industry here in this province, and they are not able to find enough hives locally to pollinate their crops.  Now that would be a problem indeed, since without pollinators (and honey bees in particular) there would be no blueberries at all. The blueberry lobby has taken the strategy to petition the government to bring hives in from Ontario to cover the lack of availability in NS. The government in turn has agreed, and has put in place a number of protocols to inspect the incoming hives prior to importation.

It sounds great, but personally I don’t think it is addressing the fundamental problem. Why are there not enough bees in Nova Scotia, and what is our long-term strategy to address the problems of lack of hive, and the imminent SHB migration to this province?

I think it’s a half fast maneuver. And I worry about the rift this might create between the Blueberry industry and us beekeepers. We do work very closely together, but our interests are not completely aligned. I think most Beekeeping operations are primarily concerned about the yearly hive losses, and the quality of their product, which in turn the Blueberry industry worries about the crop yields and pests that directly affect their plants. I suspect that some of the hives brought in from Ontario will not return to their province as proposed, but stay here and potentially affect local livestock. This year I have heard a number of beekeepers say that they will not put their bees at risk this year, because of fears their hives will get infected by the imported bees.

I’d love to see the province of Nova Scotia expend more efforts building local bee stocks here, and maybe even help Nova Scotia become a center for excellence in bee ecology.

Ames News

Our Carniolans were delivered and installed April 1st. They are doing really well, bringing in pollen and building out the comb that they will need to rear brood.

The one hive that suffered a bad Varroa outbreak has bounced back! A couple of days I cracked that hive open and there they were in all their glory. They even gave me a present to announce their presence (albeit a painful one).

We’ve opened up pre-orders for our liquid honey, with availability sometime in July. See our online store.

We’ve accepted an invitation to attend this year’s Honey Harvest Festival. It will take place at Avon Heritage Museum on September 10th, hope to see you all there!

Bees in the News

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