Statistical Overview of the Canadian Honey and Bee Industry and the Economic Contribution of Honey Bee Pollination, 2016

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Overview

The numbers of beekeepers and colonies have been steadily increasing over the last five years, reaching all-time peaks in 2016. In 2016, over 9,800 beekeepers across Canada kept one or more honey bee colonies, totaling over 750,000 colonies. While honey production varies year-to-year with weather and other local production factors Canada produced 92.2 million pounds in 2016, up slightly from 2015. After four years of consecutive growth, the total value of the honey produced in Canada fell from $210 million in 2015 to $159 million in 2016, a decrease of 25%. The decline in value was attributable to the lower prices received at farmgate.

The majority of bee colonies are in the Prairies, where long summer days and a favourable crop mix are ideal for foraging; Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba collectively accounted for 69% of the country's total bee colonies and for 83% of the total honey production. Alberta contributed the most to Canada's overall honey production with 45%, followed by Saskatchewan (20%) and Manitoba (17%).

Ontario currently has the largest number of beekeepers, with 2,896 of the 9,859 national total or 29%. British Columbia and Alberta have the second and third largest number of beekeepers, with 2,640 and 1,400 beekeepers respectively.

After two consecutive years of decreases in 2013 and 2014, Canada's total honey exports by value rose 36% from 2014 to $65 million in 2015, and grew 35% from 2015 to $72 million in 2016. The United States is the largest export destination for Canadian honey and accounted for 71% of all honey exports in 2016. The second and third largest honey export destinations are Japan (24%) and China (3%), respectively.

After four years of consecutive growth, Canada's total honey imports fell from $41 million in 2015 to $38 million in 2016. For many years Argentina was the largest exporter of honey (by value) to Canada; however, its total value of honey exports to Canada declined significantly, from $8.7 million in 2013 to just $444 thousand in 2016, dropping from the top ten countries exporting to Canada. Brazil became the largest exporter of honey by value to Canada in 2016, with an import value of $10.5 million. New Zealand and the United States were the second and third largest sources of Canadian imports, valued at $7.1 million and $4.2 million, respectively. Most of the imports from New Zealand and Brazil are types of honey that are not produced here, such as that from Manuka flowers, which generate premium prices.

In 2016, Canada's honey industry recorded a positive trade balance of $34.3 million, up 35% from the previous year's balance. However, this increase in trade balance in 2016 still remains lower than the highest trade balance of $58.3 million achieved in 2012

Managed pollination services, including those delivered by beekeepers, are a critical input for many agricultural activities, including the production of orchard fruits, many berries and vegetables and the creation of hybrid canola seed. Using established methodology, it is possible to estimate the economic contribution in additional harvest value that can be linked to honey bees as managed pollinators. Based on 2016 harvest data, the most recent estimate of the economic contribution of Canadian honey bee pollination shows that between 4 and 7 billion dollars in additional crop value is made possible through the pollination services provided by beekeepers and their honey bees.

Section A: Statistical overview of Canadian honey and bee industry

1. Production

1.1 Number of beekeepers[1] by province

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Prince Edward Island 46 47 45 45 40
Nova Scotia 230 287 320 395 461
New Brunswick 244 244 277 291 270
Quebec 305 296 309 333 340
Ontario 3,200 3,155 3,262 2,562 2,896
Manitoba 517 532 546 607 662
Saskatchewan 748 715 719 955 1,150
Alberta 883 890 1,015 1,064 1,400
British Columbia 2,139 2,323 2,405 2,363 2,640
Canada[2] 8,312 8,489 8,898 8,615 9,859

Notes:

[1] Beekeeper numbers may include providers of pollination services.

[2] Newfoundland and Labrador is excluded since the province has no honey production to report.

Source: Statistics Canada (CANSIM Table 001-0007)

1.2. Number of beekeepers by province – percent share, 2016

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Number of beekeepers by province – percent share

  • Ontario: 29%
  • British Columbia: 27%
  • Alberta: 14%
  • Saskatchewan: 12%
  • Manitoba: 7%
  • Others: 11%

Source: Statistics Canada. (CANSIM Table 001-0007)

1.3 Number of colonies[1] by province

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Prince Edward Island 3,719 4,432 3,777 4,005 4,920
Nova Scotia 19,000 19,500 23,000 25,504 24,978
New Brunswick 5,650 4,318 5,441 6,710 7,000
Quebec 49,708 47,203 49,635 54,294 57,000
Ontario 101,000 97,500 112,800 101,135 97,342
Manitoba 80,000 73,800 78,700 90,909 102,030
Saskatchewan 110,000 100,000 95,000 101,000 112,000
Alberta 278,400 278,100 282,900 296,880 305,000
British Columbia 42,560 42,544 44,999 45,571 39,885
Canada[2] 690,037 667,397 696,252 726,008 750,155

Notes:

1. Colony numbers may include providers of pollination services.

2. Newfoundland and Labrador is excluded since the province has no honey production to report.

Source: Statistics Canada (CANSIM Table 001-0007)

1.4. Number of colonies by province – percent share, 2016

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Number of colonies by province – percent share

  • Alberta: 41%
  • Saskatchewan: 15%
  • Manitoba: 14%
  • Ontario: 13%
  • Quebec: 7%
  • Others: 10%

Source: Statistics Canada. (CANSIM Table 001-0007)

1.5. Number of beekeepers and number of colonies by province

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Province Number of beekeepers Number of colonies
Prince Edward Island40 4,920
Nova Scotia 461 24,978
New Brunswick 270 7,000
Quebec 340 57,000
Ontario 2,896 97,342
Manitoba 662 102,030
Saskatchewan 1,150 112,000
Alberta 1,400 305,000
British Columbia 2,640 39,885

Source: Statistics Canada. (CANSIM Table 001-0007)

1.6. Total honey production[1] by province – thousands of pounds

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Prince Edward Island 184 176 155 168 162
Nova Scotia 400 495 430 411 424
New Brunswick 199 207 236 276 287
Quebec 4,395 3,286 4,290 4,194 4,408
Ontario 9,439 6,363 10,577 8,972 8,880
Manitoba 13,200 12,472 14,087 16,000 15,202
Saskatchewan 23,125 18,200 16,530 18,837 22,848
Alberta 38,000 33,200 35,500 39,461 38,125
British Columbia 1,817 2,069 3,840 3,692 1,848
Canada[2] 90,759 76,468 85,644 92,011 92,184

Notes:

1. Production excludes inventory.

2. Newfoundland and Labrador is excluded since the province has limited beekeeping.

Source: Statistics Canada (CANSIM Table 001-0007)

1.7. Total honey production by province – percent share, 2016

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Number of colonies by province – percent share

  • Alberta: 41%
  • Saskatchewan: 25%
  • Manitoba: 16%
  • Ontario: 10%
  • British Columbia: 2%
  • Others: 6%

Source: Statistics Canada. (CANSIM Table 001-0007)

1.8. Production value[1] of honey by province - thousands of Canadian dollars

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Prince Edward Island 551 453 415 579 445
Nova Scotia 1,260 1,559 1,257 1,343 1,216
New Brunswick 503 517 630 740 661
Quebec 12,291 12,279 13,386 13,905 14,500
Ontario 23,815 20,362 36,147 31,119 27,084
Manitoba 23,100 25,318 30,288 32,400 21,000
Saskatchewan 38,156 37,310 34,713 26,372 27,418
Alberta 68,340 72,905 79,788 84,555 56,859
British Columbia 8,190 10,580 12,617 19,471 8,622
Canada[2] 176,206 181,283 209,241 210,483 157,805

Notes:

1. Value excludes inventory sales except for in Quebec.

2. Newfoundland and Labrador is excluded since the province has limited beekeeping.

Source: Statistics Canada (CANSIM Table 001-0007)

1.9. Production value of honey by province – percent share, 2016

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Value of honey by province – percent share

  • Alberta: 36%
  • Saskatchewan: 17%
  • Ontario: 17%
  • Manitoba: 13%
  • British Columbia: 6%
  • Others: 11%

Source: Statistics Canada. (CANSIM Table 001-0007)

2. Trade

2.1 Trade balance

2.1.1 Canada's honey trade balance – thousands of Canadian dollars
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Export 73,794 60,856 50,859 66,603 72,315
Import 14,923 26,015 32,215 41,214 38,062
Trade Balance
(Exports - Imports)
58,871 34,840 18,644 25,389 34,253
Source: Statistics Canada. (CATSNET, June 2017)

2.2. Exports

2.2.1. Canada's honey exports by province[1] – value (thousands of Canadian dollars)
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Prince Edward Island 58 19 0 34 78
Nova Scotia 2 2 3 2 61
Quebec 19,265 11,650 4,369 6,480 6,158
Ontario 2,140 2,273 2,330 2,735 2,212
Manitoba 23,097 15,571 11,274 17,745 17,060
Saskatchewan 17,294 16,056 13,764 15,640 11,346
Alberta 10,995 12,832 14,929 20,499 33,433
British Columbia 386 733 1,759 1,748 1,490
Canada 73,237 59,135 48,429 64,883 71,838

Note:

1. Exports may include honey not produced in that province.

Source: Statistics Canada. (CATSNET, June 2017)

2.2.2. Canada's honey exports by province – percent share, 2016
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Canada's honey exports by province – percent share

  • Alberta: 46%
  • Manitoba: 24%
  • Saskatchewan: 16%
  • Quebec: 9%
  • Ontario: 3%
  • Others: 2%

Source: Statistics Canada. (CATSNET, June 2017)

2.2.3. Canada's honey exports by province - volume (metric tonnes)
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Prince Edward Island 3 2 0 6 14
Nova Scotia 0 0 0 0 7
Québec 4,963 2,392 787 1,116 1,021
Ontario 383 332 314 360 378
Manitoba 5,779 3,334 2,187 3,316 4,580
Saskatchewan 4,455 3,335 2,645 2,999 3,551
Alberta 2,566 2,507 2,840 3,640 8,113
British Columbia 75 146 316 264 215
Total 18,224 12,050 9,090 11,701 17,879
Source: Statistics Canada. (CATSNET, June 2017)
2.2.4. Canada's top 10 honey export destinations - value (thousands of Canadian dollars)
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
United States 61,870 45,454 29,708 44,541 50,894
Japan 8,771 11,873 16,308 16,176 17,045
China 1,067 1,174 1,665 2,522 2,396
South Korea 207 5 0 751 559
Hong Kong 332 141 504 287 271
India 0 0 0 0 95
Kuwait 0 0 0 118 84
Switzerland 0 0 1 0 74
Jordan 7 0 0 0 64
Barbados 70 24 39 55 56
Others 914 464 204 432 301
Total 73,237 59,135 48,429 64,883 71,838
Source: Statistics Canada. (CATSNET, June 2017)
2.2.5 Canada's top honey export destinations by country – percent share, 2016
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Canada's top honey export destinations by country – percent share

  • United States: 71%
  • Japan: 24%
  • China: 3%
  • Others: 2%

Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, June 2017)

2.2.6. Canada's top 10 honey export destinations - volume (metric tonnes)
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
United States 15,832 9,385 5,578 8,234 13,553
Japan 1,897 2,363 3,143 2,810 3,719
China 203 196 250 402 323
South Korea 37 1 0 116 105
Hong Kong 47 22 85 43 40
India 0 0 0 0 29
Switzerland 0 0 0 21 15
Kuwait 0 0 0 0 21
Jordan 1 0 0 0 12
Barbados 12 4 6 9 10
Others 195 78 29 64 52
Total 18,224 12,050 9,090 11,701 17,879
Source: Statistics Canada. (CATSNET, June 2017)

2.3. Imports

2.3.1. Canada's honey imports by province - value (Canadian dollars)
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Nova Scotia 760 3,087 2,819 408 2,062
New Brunswick 417 0 0 113 216
Quebec 4,750,239 6,722,969 11,426,777 14,004,883 13,932,609
Ontario 8,145,010 16,897,806 16,835,830 21,683,754 17,958,821
Manitoba 38,072 292,122 603,335 453,018 305,147
Saskatchewan 13,177 13,083 48 53,687 13,854
Alberta 79,620 9,986 123,767 813,019 1,165,645
British Columbia 1,895,226 2,076,442 3,222,272 4,205,137 4,683,749
Total 14,922,521 26,015,495 32,214,848 41,214,019 38,062,103
Source: Statistics Canada. (CATSNET, June 2017)
2.3.2 Canada's honey imports by province – percent share, 2016
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Canada's honey imports by province – percent share

  • Ontario: 47%
  • Quebec: 37%
  • British Columbia: 12%
  • Others: 4%

Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, June 2017)

2.3.3. Canada's honey imports by province - volume (kilograms)
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Nova Scotia 56 649 614 60 317
New Brunswick 73 0 0 9 51
Quebec 1,397,198 1,760,803 2,848,540 3,219,694 3,417,798
Ontario 1,801,179 3,400,794 3,105,020 3,552,532 2,476,506
Manitoba 8,784 69,323 57,412 53,698 39,740
Saskatchewan 2,231 3,074 4 5,583 936
Alberta 5,155 927 10,558 99,573 223,966
British Columbia 220,302 258,886 316,357 384,940 400,912
Canada 3,434,978 5,494,456 6,338,505 7,316,089 6,560,226
Source: Statistics Canada. (CATSNET, June 2017)
2.3.4. Canada's top 10 sources of honey imports - value (Canadian dollars)
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Brazil 1,671,963 3,810,667 6,059,420 7,307,083 10,515,234
New Zealand 2,799,001 3,749,492 4,651,685 7,483,814 7,120,281
United States 1,447,090 3,065,478 3,759,112 6,161,862 4,207,803
Australia 2,600,480 2,788,815 2,609,958 4,249,661 3,629,420
Spain 21,321 42,410 331,913 3,270,807 3,024,203
India 386,851 582,183 1,071,590 1,036,187 1,550,297
Greece 787,559 1,387,871 877,670 1,399,416 1,171,278
Myanmar 0 0 138,369 541,456 960,289
Ukraine 0 15 1,441,591 607,767 858,053
Thailand 0 15 520,833 2,585,800 808,688
Others 5,208,256 10,588,549 10,752,707 6,570,166 4,216,557
Total 14,922,521 26,015,495 32,214,848 41,214,019 38,062,103
Source: Statistics Canada. (CATSNET, June 2017)
2.3.5 Canada's top sources of honey imports by country - percent share, 2016
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Canada's top sources of honey imports by country - percent share

  • Brazil: 28%
  • New Zealand: 19%
  • United States: 11%
  • Australia: 9%
  • Spain: 8%
  • Others: 25%

Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, June 2017)

2.3.6. Canada's top 10 sources of honey imports - volume (kilograms)
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Brazil 494,605 1,039,335 1,429,623 1,528,830 2,134,017
United States 337,716 706,722 614,813 938,742 652,498
Spain 3,542 6,707 75,514 766,116 646,681
India 92,508 126,707 285,975 222,511 429,116
Myanmar 0 0 58,200 201,002 402,010
Australia 366,269 410,171 307,996 506,390 393,654
Ukraine 0 5 445,421 155,262 325,126
New Zealand 375,345 197,320 245,302 292,186 298,498
Thailand 0 6 166,640 764,835 230,849
China 91,079 26,627 468,250 552,864 214,854
Others 1,673,914 2,980,856 2,240,771 1,387,351 832,923
Total 3,434,978 5,494,456 6,338,505 7,316,089 6,560,226
Source: Statistics Canada. (CATSNET, June 2017)
2.3.7. Canada's sources of honey bee imports - value (Canadian dollars)
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
New Zealand 2,110,082 3,397,507 3,794,388 3,601,795 2,752,912
Australia 414,177 1,494,051 1,578,619 1,275,366 559,584
United States 0 0 14,008 223,942 249,614
Denmark 0 0 0 0 9,428
Total 2,524,259 4,891,558 5,387,015 5,101,103 3,571,538

Notes:

Package bees are sold in a variety of sizes typically one pound, two pound and three pound packages.  No detail on the individual numbers of different package sizes is available.

Does not include queen bees.

Source: Statistics Canada. (CATSNET, June 2017)

2.3.8. Canada's sources of queen bee imports - value (thousands of Canadian dollars)
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
United States 3,399,366 4,264,789 5,364,363 6,416,761 6,316,094
Australia 264,162 258,578 109,357 56,248 145,681
Chile 50,002 168,287 149,095 128,051 91,396
New Zealand 149,167 90,793 103,906 108,924 81,787
Denmark 4,481 0 13,748 0 0
Total 3,867,178 4,782,447 5,740,469 6,709,984 6,634,958
Source: Statistics Canada. (CATSNET, June 2017)

3. Consumption

3.1 Honey available for consumption[1] in Canada – kilograms per person

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Honey 0.81 0.84 1.06 1.09 0.90

Note:

1. Does not adjust for losses, such as waste and/or spoilage in stores, households, private institutions or restaurants or losses during preparation.

Source: Statistics Canada (CANSIM Table 002-0011)

4. World data

4.1. Top 10 exporters of honey worldwide - value (thousands of Canadian dollars)

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
China 214,624 254,821 288,046 370,299 367,884
New Zealand 103,745 144,133 185,525 253,729 271,606
Argentina 215,152 217,318 224,349 208,015 223,089
Germany 121,146 134,764 155,648 168,799 180,199
Spain 79,911 94,788 132,191 129,985 144,399
Ukraine 30,962 54,739 103,466 108,802 129,046
Mexico 101,861 115,906 161,318 196,692 123,115
Brazil 52,393 55,830 108,566 104,106 122,073
Belgium 54,137 68,580 83,454 107,533 95,963
India 60,753 78,038 85,400 155,276 93,744
Others 665,459 1,141,962 879,087 963,277 834,652
Total 1,700,142 2,360,879 2,407,050 2,766,513 2,585,770
Source: Global Trade Tracker (June 2017)

4.2. Top 10 honey-exporting countries, 2016

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Top 10 honey exporting countries

  • China: 367,884
  • New Zealand: 271,606
  • Argentina: 223,089
  • Germany: 180,199
  • Spain: 144,399
  • Ukraine: 129,046
  • Mexico: 123,115
  • Brazil: 122,073
  • Belgium: 95,963
  • India: 93,744

Source: Global Trade Tracker (June 2017)

4.3. Top 10 importers of honey worldwide - value (thousands of Canadian dollars)

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
United States 430,371 513,947 641,588 770,164 559,604
Germany 281,283 335,528 353,906 425,046 369,948
Japan 105,220 119,602 132,676 150,898 209,152
France 94,229 118,225 171,385 164,567 168,489
United Kingdom 112,215 130,550 146,563 168,236 158,143
Belgium 55,739 65,375 85,930 115,404 98,076
China 26,219 44,284 64,754 96,064 96,505
Italy 55,921 77,875 100,075 108,883 95,982
Spain 48,155 54,944 67,204 93,012 86,542
Poland 34,925 49,794 61,885 62,920 66,902
Others 444,708 515,563 651,754 738,223 693,373
Total 1,688,984 2,025,687 2,477,720 2,893,417 2,602,716
Source: Global Trade Tracker (June 2017)

4.4. Top 10 honey-importing countries, 2016

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Top 10 honey importing countries (thousands of Canadian dollars)

  • United States: 559,604
  • Germany: 369,948
  • Japan: 209,152
  • France: 168,489
  • United Kingdom: 158,143
  • Belgium: 98,076
  • China: 96,505
  • Italy: 95,982
  • Spain: 86,542
  • Poland: 66,373

Source: Global Trade Tracker (June 2017)

Section B: Honey bee pollination

5. Economic value of honey bee pollination of Canadian agriculture

5.1. Background

Honey bee pollination is a critical input for many agricultural commodities.  An established methodology can be applied to estimate the value of the direct economic contribution to agriculture generated by honey bee pollination.

Honey bees placed near target crops by commercial and hobbyist beekeepers are the most common form of managed pollination, though alfalfa leafcutter bees, bumblebees and some other insect species are used in specific agricultural circumstances.  This analysis attempts to exclude the contribution of natural and controlled pollinators other than honey bees.  Pollination services for blueberry, cranberry, orchard fruit and canola seed production generate the bulk of the demand for honey bee pollination.

This analysis relies on 2016 Canadian farm gate value or farm cash receipts for key commodities. The estimation uses established coefficients for each crop to determine the proportion of the crop harvest reliant on insect pollination and the proportion of insect pollination that is delivered by honey bees.

5.2. Value of bee pollination by crop

The contribution of honey bee pollination to agricultural production can be estimated using an established formula:

V × D × P
where
V = Annual value of crop
D = Dependency of the crop on insect pollinators
P = Proportion of effective insect pollinators of the crop that are honey bees
The estimates used for D and P are those used by Morse and Calderone (2000).

5.3. Estimated contribution of Canadian honey bee pollination to value of key crops in 2016 – thousands of Canadian dollars

Crop D[1]
(1=100%)
P[2]
(1=100%)
D × P[3]
(1=100%)
V[4]
(CAN$ '000)
Value of honey bee pollination
D × P × V
(CAN$ '000)
Tree fruits 344,873 282,074
Apples 1 0.9 0.9 222,525 200,273
Apricots 0.7 0.8 0.56 1,603 898
Sour Cherries 0.9 0.9 0.81 4,759 3,855
Sweet Cherries 0.9 0.9 0.81 55,733 45,144
Nectarines 0.6 0.8 0.48 8,545 4,102
Peaches 0.6 0.8 0.48 35,852 17,209
Pears 0.7 0.9 0.63 9,129 5,751
Prunes/Plums 0.8 0.9 0.72 6,727 4,843
Berries 682,611 386,152
Grapes 0.1 0.1 0.01 151,093 1,511
Blueberries 1 0.9 0.9 261,532 235,379
Raspberries 0.8 0.9 0.72 35,369 25,466
Strawberries 0.2 0.1 0.02 99,271 1,985
Cranberries 1 0.9 0.9 135,346 121,811
Cucurbits 123,048 51,807
Cucumbers 0.9 0.9 0.81 38,483 31,171
Melons 0.8 0.9 0.72 20,674 14,885
Pumpkin 0.9 0.1 0.09 25,868 2,328
Squash/Zucchini 0.9 0.1 0.09 38,023 3,422
Oilseeds 12,261,397 1,841,143
Canola 0.2 0.9 0.18 9,238,330 1,662,899
Sunflower 1 0.9 0.9 15,965 14,369
Mustard Seed 0.2 0.8 0.16 122,911 19,666
Soybeans 0.1 0.5 0.05 2,884,191 144,210
Forage seed 94,072 9,407
Alfalfa Seed 1 0.1 0.1 94,072 9,407
Total 2,570,583

Notes:

1. D = Dependency of the crop on insect pollinators.

2. P = Proportion of effective insect pollinators of the crop that are honey bees.

3. D × P = Combined coefficient.

4. V = 2016 value of crop.

Sources:

The estimates for D and P used are those used by Morse and Calderone (2000)

The estimates for crop value: Statistics Canada

5.4. Impact of bee pollination on crop production

Fruits and Vegetables

Insect pollination is critical to the economic performance of key crops in the horticulture (fruit and vegetable) sector. In Table 5.3, the established methodology is used to estimate the contributions of honey bee pollination to the Canadian harvest of major insect-pollinated crops. Apple production in Canada in 2016 generated a total harvest value of $223 million (farm gate value) of which honey bees were responsible for 90% or $200 million. For berries, in the rapidly growing blueberry sector honey bees are responsible for $235 million out of $262 million (90%) in high-bush and low-bush blueberries combined. In total, the 2016 economic contribution of honey bee pollination to production of fruits and vegetables is estimated at $720 million.

Canola

Special consideration of the contribution of honey bees to the production of canola is merited. Most canola planted in Canada today is hybrid seed. The production of hybrid canola seed grown to be subsequently planted by farmers the following season requires precisely timed and thorough insect pollination to bring together the separate genetic lines of the male and female parent plant strains. Since hybrid canola seed is produced primarily with managed pollinators, a portion of the value of this crop can be included as part of the direct agricultural contribution of honey bees through pollination.

Most of the hybrid canola seed produced in Canada is subsequently planted in Canada. While commodity canola is primarily wind-pollinated, research indicates that honey bees foraging on canola can add to harvest quantity and quality. Researchers offer a wide range of estimates for the increase in production linked to honey bee foraging depending on plant variety and a number of local conditions, including the abundance of natural pollinators. The highest estimates suggest a gain approaching 20% in additional harvest value, while more modest gains from 2% to 15% have also been reported. Most of the 488,790 hives in the Prairie provinces forage on commodity canola for several weeks in the peak of summer.

Honey bees are estimated to be responsible for about half of the pollination that makes the production of hybrid canola seed possible (with alfalfa leafcutter bees primarily responsible for the other half). One approach to estimating the magnitude of this contribution is to take this share (50%) of the total farm gate value of canola into account as a key economic contribution of honey bees to the total value produced by Canadian agriculture. Total farm cash receipts for producers of canola were $12.2 billion in 2016. If honey bees are credited with making 50% of the production of canola seed possible (for a contributed value $6.1 billion), in order to avoid double counting, the additional estimated contribution from honey bee pollination to commodity canola from Table 5.3 must be removed from the total contribution. The additional agricultural value of all other crop pollination, less canola, is $898 million, generating a total estimate for the contribution of honey bees of $7 billion.

An alternative model for estimating the contribution of honey bees to canola crops could be based on the additional contribution to harvest volume through the development and adoption of hybrid canola seed technology over the past twenty years - made possible through the use of managed insect pollination. Hybrid canola seed has increased harvest volumes by a (conservatively) estimated 30%, all other things being equal, compared with non-hybrid canola. If honey bees make half of the 30% increase in canola harvest value possible as they provide about half of the managed pollination to make the seed, for 2016 that contribution (half of 30%, or 15% of total harvest) would be valued at $1.4 billion. The total contribution to agriculture of honey bees from adopting this approach is $3.97 billion: $2.57 billion (for contribution to increased harvest ‘in field' from Table 5.3) and $1.4 billion in value contribution by making possible the adoption of more productive hybrid canola seed technology.

5.5. Estimated economic contribution of honey bee pollination to crop production

The 2016 total annual economic contribution of honey bee pollination through direct additional harvest value is estimated at $2.57 billion (Table 5.3). Value beyond this is created by the contribution of honey bees to the production of hybrid canola seed which, depending on the approach chosen, was valued at between $1.4 billion and $6.1 billion per year in 2016. The contribution to canola production combined with other agricultural production which benefits from honey bee pollination suggests the economic harvest value contributed by honey bees ranges from $3.97 to $7 billion per year.

While a more rigorous and detailed scientific assessment of each commodity in production could produce higher or lower estimates, this analysis shows that the value to agriculture of honey bee pollination is substantially greater than the value of honey and other hive products produced (about $200 million per year). This estimate does not capture the growing contribution of alfalfa leafcutting bees to canola and blueberry production, nor the valuable contribution of natural pollinators.

6. Key Resources

  • Global Trade Tracker
  • Statistics Canada. (CANSIM TABLE 001-0007)
  • Statistics Canada. (CANSIM TABLE 002-0001)
  • Statistics Canada. CATSNET
    • Import and export data is based on the following Harmonized System Codes (H.S. Codes):
      • Honey for import: 0409000010 0409000021 0409000022 0409000023 0409000024 0409000025 0409000026 0409000029 0409000090
      • Honey for export: 04090000
      • Honey Bees for import: 0106410011 0106410012 0106410020 0106900011 0106900012 0106900020

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Statistical Overview of the Canadian Honey and Bee Industry and the Economic Contribution of Honey Bee Pollination, 2016 (PDF version, 758 KB)

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