The business of bees

Several funding initiatives are working to ensure the health of Canada’s pollinators, an essential factor for farming success. The governments of Canada and Ontario are supporting projects that will strengthen the health of managed honey bees and Ontario’s beekeeping sector. Since September 2019, the federal and provincial governments have committed more than $221,000 to support 135 projects. These projects will help beekeepers make improvements to better manage pests, diseases and other stressors and grow their bee-related business. Factoring in project funding coming from the businesses themselves, this represents a joint investment of more than $602,000 in the sector.

The funding has been provided through a targeted application intake under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, which is a five-year, $3-billion commitment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to support Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sector. Eligible applications are being received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is available.

Some projects supported through this targeted intake include:

• Equipment to help managed honey bees survive over the winter months

• Projects to detect and manage pests such as varroa mites

• Technology to enhance production

• Equipment to prepare operations for managing Small Hive Beetle

Managed honey bees pollinate 80 percent of all agricultural crops requiring insect pollination. They account for $395 million in pollination services to Ontario farmers and contribute $30 million a year in honey sales.

In Atlantic Canada, $800,000 in funding also was allocated to support the honey bee sector, which helps pollinate wild blueberries in the region.The project, led by the Atlantic Tech Transfer Team for Apiculture (ATTTA), is taking a regional approach to honey bee research in order to meet the pollination demands of the local wild blueberry industry. The project will help improve honey bee colony health, monitor and manage pests and diseases, improve overwintering success and promote biosecurity techniques for the sector. In 2018, the farm gate value of Canadian blueberries was almost $244 million; wild blueberry exports accounted for about half of Canada’s total fresh and frozen blueberry exports, which totalled $475 million to 45 countries. 

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