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New System to Document Canadian Honey Bee Health
  by Francie Dennison  
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July 15, 2014: Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz today announced an investment of $1 million to the Beekeepers Commission of Alberta to initiate a four-year-nation-wide surveillance project to document the health profile of honey bee colonies in Canada.

The aim of the project is to record the nature, extent and prevalence of diseases, pest organisms and chemical residues in Canadian apiaries. To date, surveillance of this nature has been done at the regional level, and the sector is seeking to expand coordination and identify commonalities nationally on the health of bees. This baseline information is essential in regional colony health management practices and will identify exotic organisms before they establish themselves within Canadian bee populations. The data gathered will also support Canada's position for international trade of honey bee stock.

This project builds on the work that Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's researchers, in partnership with the Canadian Honey Council, the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists and their international counterparts, have undertaken in recent years to address emerging bee health issues.

Quick facts

  • Founded in 2006, the Beekeepers Commission of Alberta represents more than 1,300 beekeepers and the production of 60 per cent of the honey crop in Canada.
  • In 2013, the total value of honey produced in Canada was $176 million.
  • Honey bees are the primary managed pollinator used in agriculture world-wide.
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has invested over $2.6 million for 22 projects with industry councils to improve the health and sustainability of bee colonies.
  • This investment is being made through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's AgriMarketing Program, a five-year, up to $341-million initiative under Growing Forward 2.

"Our Government understands the fundamental role bees play in keeping Canadian agriculture strong. This industry-led initiative will explore ways to keep Canada's bee population healthy while contributing to our overall economy." - Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz

"The Beekeepers Commission of Alberta is gratified to receive the support of the federal government in establishing a survey process to monitor honeybee health across Canada. This project, which will benefit the Canadian beekeeping industry, will document the distribution and intensity of known and potential diseases, pests and parasites in Canada's commercial beekeeping industry, and where this information is required to further science-based solutions." - Grant Hicks, President, Beekeepers Commission of Alberta

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