Honey bee health and potential impacts on agriculture in Canada

Guarna MM, Pernal SF, Pettis JS, Hoover SE, Melathopoulos AP, Page S (2016) Honey bee health and potential impacts on agriculture in Canada. XXV International Congress of Entomology 2016, 25-30 Sept 2016, Orlando, FL.

Abstract

Introduction: The contribution of honey bees to crop pollination and honey production in Canada is valued at $3-4 billion annually. The health of Canadian honey bees however, is threatened by multiple factors including pathogens, parasites, and pests, nutritional stress, queen quality, pesticide exposure, and weather conditions. We explored how the diverse Canadian geography, climate, and farming practices influence the relative weight of these factors. We also analysed future demands for pollination, and the related consequences on hive movement, colony health, and regulatory legislation. Methods: We analysed data on honey bee health, productivity, and pollination services from several sources including the Annual Report of Colony Losses published by the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists, Statistics Canada, and our own research to obtain a representation of Canadian honey bee health and its contribution to Canadian agricultural systems. Results/Conclusion: There are approximately 700,000 colonies in Canada managed by 9,000 beekeepers in different paradigms, including stationary honey production, localized pollination, or long-distance migratory pollination. There has been rapid growth in Canadian pollination markets resulting in increased honey bee stock and interprovincial movement: hybrid canola seed in Alberta, highbush blueberry in British Columbia and lowbush blueberry in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. Increased movement has generated concern for transmission and control of diseases and pests. We will present an update on the status of Canadian honey bee health, emerging threats, their effects on provincial and federal legislation, and the evolving agricultural landscape.

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