Winter losses of bee colonies in Ontario could be worst on record
In this photo taken Monday, April 15, 2013, honey bees and the queen (with yellow dot) sit on a honeycomb in Wezembeek-Oppem near Brussels. (Yves Logghe/AP Photo)
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, May 15, 2018 6:01AM EDT
MONTREAL -- Canadian beekeepers are expressing concern about the effects of poor weather on their colonies, with the president of the Ontario Beekeepers' Association describing the level of dead or ailing ones as "astounding.
"It's quite discouraging and demoralizing for beekeepers," Jim Coneybeare, 55, said in a phone interview Monday.
An association survey of almost 900 Ontario beekeepers indicated that 70 per cent suffered unsustainable losses this past winter.
"I've been getting calls from beekeepers around the province," said Coneybeare, who lives in Fergus, Ont.
"The number of dead or weak colonies is astounding. These could be the worst winter losses on record."
That's bad news not only for beekeepers, but for vegetable and fruit growers who depend on bees for pollination.
More than 40 per cent said the recent long, cold winter that extended into spring was the main reason for the heavy losses.
"Pollen from the trees usually comes at the end of March, beginning of April, (but) nobody saw that until the end of April, beginning of May, so a lot of our pollen was delayed," Coneybeare said.
The third-generation beekeeper explained that an abundance of pollen and nectar leads queen bees to raise a lot of young bees, but that production of the brood is cut back if there is not enough.