Lots of buzz around bee­keep­ing

‘Would-bee­keep­ers’ must be pre­pared to in­vest labour and money, says NLBKA pres­i­dent

The Compass - - Classified -

Bee­keep­ing is get­ting more and more pop­u­lar in the prov­ince, and at the risk of be­ing a buzz-kill, the pres­i­dent of the New­found­land and Labrador Bee­keep­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (NLBKA) is warn­ing “would­bee­keep­ers” that it’s more than a ca­sual hobby.

Catherine Dempsey said this time of year, a lot of peo­ple are start­ing to think about gar­den­ing and pol­li­na­tion.

“With height­ened aware­ness about the im­por­tance of ‘sav­ing the bees’ for pol­li­na­tion and food security, in­creas­ing num­bers of peo­ple are think­ing they should get a hive and set it up in the gar­den,” she said. “How­ever, if you want to start bee­keep­ing here in New­found­land and Labrador you can’t just go out and buy a hive and pack­age of bees off the in­ter­net and ex­pect honey to pour out.”

The NLBKA said in a news re­lease that bee­keep­ing in­volves a lot of in­vest­ment of both labour and money. To help lo­cal bee­keep­ers get started, the group holds an in­for­ma­tion ses­sion ev­ery year. Dempsey said in­ter­est has grown so much since the group formed in 2015 that most in the group are in­ex­pe­ri­enced — though a few api­arists have been a big help get­ting peo­ple started.

Dempsey said bee­keep­ing in this prov­ince comes with unique cir­cum­stances, in­clud­ing cli­mate chal­lenges and — on a more pos­i­tive note — a lack of pests such as the Var­roa de­struc­tor that plague the bee­keep­ing in­dus­try else­where in the world.

“We have good po­ten­tial to ex­pand bee­keep­ing in the prov­ince to help with the pol­li­na­tion of blue­ber­ries, cran­ber­ries and var­i­ous veg­etable and fruit crops. And, we could de­velop a strong ‘clean bee’ ex­port mar­ket. But we need the co-op­er­a­tion of the pub­lic and peo­ple who want to get honey bees in keep­ing Var­roa and other pests out,” said Dempsey.

She said it’s im­por­tant for “would-bee­keep­ers” to fol­low pro­vin­cial reg­u­la­tions, in­clud­ing get­ting a start-up colony from a lo­cal, es­tab­lished bee­keeper.

“It is il­le­gal to bring honey bees or bum­ble bees from the main­land with­out a per­mit from the pro­vin­cial government. If some­one was to try to sneak bees into the prov­ince it could be an ir­re­versible blow to our honey bees and na­tive pol­li­na­tors,” she said.

To avoid such a sit­u­a­tion, the as­so­ci­a­tion has asked Canada Post to con­tact them or the pro­vin­cial government if packaged bees ar­rive. The NLBKA will also con­tact pri­vate courier com­pa­nies with the same re­quest.

“We were pleased with the co-op­er­a­tion we re­ceived from Canada Post. We hope to re­mind the staff at all en­try points to the prov­ince that this could be a se­ri­ous prob­lem if we don’t all work to­gether. And we will con­tinue to work to sup­port the suc­cess of bee­keep­ing in the prov­ince,” Dempsey said.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

A bee­keeper in New­found­land shows a frame of honey. Bee­keep­ing is be­com­ing more and more pop­u­lar in this prov­ince.

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