Honey producers report low winter losses

Hive survival last winter appears to be markedly improved compared to what many Canadian beekeepers experienced the previous year.

Beekeepers in Saskatchewan and Alberta are reporting minimal winter losses and most colonies are in good shape.

“For me, it was probably my best winter I’ve ever had since I started (beekeeping) in central Alberta,” said Jeremy Olthof, a producer from Tees, Alta. “I think we were around 15 percent (losses), maybe a little under.”

A winter loss of 15 percent is considered low, especially compared to 2017-18, when 34 percent of hives in Alberta didn’t make it through the winter. The primary factors were a long winter and a cool spring.

However, the situation looks much sunnier this spring.

Jake Berg, a beekeeper from Melfort, Sask., also had minimal hive losses this winter. The same is true for other Saskatchewan beekeepers. There are many possible reasons for the improvement.

“Better maintained hives (going into this winter),” Berg said. “(And) because there was a high winter loss the year before … a lot of the colonies had younger queens in them, and younger queens usually equate to better wintering.”

At this point, estimates of winter losses are rough guesses.

The Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists releases an official report on honeybee wintering losses in July.

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