Funding helps beekeepers cover COVID costs

Alberta beekeepers will have access to $1 million in government funds to offset the costs of colony replacements this year.

The money, available through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership and introduced by Alberta Agriculture, is earmarked to help beekeepers cover higher costs for new colonies; costs that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funds will be made available this summer and will be retroactive to cover additional expenses faced in spring 2020, according to a June 5 news release.

Alberta beekeepers typically import bee colony replacements from Chile, New Zealand and Australia. A drastic reduction in airline flights due to pandemic restrictions prevented beekeepers from obtaining their usual number of bee replacements through normal channels. Under normal conditions they would import 40,000 to 60,000 packages of bees.

“The Alberta Beekeepers Commission is very pleased with the support of the ministry during this challenging and exceptional time,” said commission president Jeremy Olthof in a news release.

Alberta Agriculture minister Devin Dreeshen said the program will help the bee industry remain competitive.

Alberta is the largest honey producer among all Canadian provinces, providing about 41 million pounds annually and contributing about $67 million to the economy.

The new program is expected to help support Alberta’s 182 commercial beekeepers and help cover costs for about 13,000 replacement bee colonies.

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