The recent news from the Alberta Beekeepers Commission reporting the honey crop in Alberta was down by as much as 50%, did not come as a shock to me. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/honey-bees-beekeepers-environment-1.5488447 Friends in the beekeeping industry in Alberta had already shared that information with us last summer. We were slightly better at 33% less than average, on par with 2018 which was the worst crop in my 27 years as a beekeeper. With a persistently low price for Canadian honey over the last 4 years, and large hive loses in the 2017 and 2018 crop years has put many honey producers at risk, including our bee farm.
Highs and lows are normal for farming, but this is different beast for the beekeeping industry mainly because the increased pressures from the Varroa mite persist and a dwindling average honey crops in the last 10-15 years were already making things more difficult. With the cost for labour, fuel, and building skyrocketing, the price of honey has stayed largely the same since the early 2000’s.
These increased pressures together with disasters of the last few years could bring some producers to their breaking point. Beekeepers that are thinking of retiring and see little to offer the next generation’s future could throw in the towel. Some of these family farms are multi-generational beekeepers. Their loss to the beekeeping industry and the rural towns in which they operate will be devastating.
What can you do if you want to help? The best action is to buy honey directly from the producer. Purchase honey produced in Canada, the producers name and bee farm will be listed on the bottle. You are supporting the producers directly and indirectly supporting the price of honey for the entire Canadian honey industry.
Social media is a strong tool to help others know what is happening right now in Canada. Not many people are aware of the plight facing honey producers.