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$1M funding supports honeybee health surveillance study


McLennan, AB – A four-year-nationwide surveillance project to document the health profile of honey bee colonies in Canada is being supported with funding of $1 million from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The funding is being provided to the Beekeepers Commission of Alberta, which will initiate the work on the surveillance project.

The study will be led by Dr. Carlos Castillo and his team at the National Bee Diagnostic Centre in Beaverlodge, AB and will be completed over four years.

“The Alberta Beekeepers Commission is pleased to receive the support of the federal government to monitor honeybee health across Canada, for the benefit of the whole Canadian beekeeping industry,” says Grant Hicks, president, Alberta Beekeepers Commission.

Currently, Canada does not have a national bee health surveillance program in place. The study will build on previously conducted regional surveillance and will record the nature, extent and prevalence of diseases, pest organisms and chemical residues in Canadian apiaries. This baseline information is essential in regional colony health management practices and will identify exotic organisms before they establish themselves within Canadian bee populations. The data gathered will also support Canada’s position for international trade of honey bee stock.

“A functioning national research strategy will allow Canada’s commercial beekeepers to meet the growing pollination needs of various stakeholder groups, as well as produce a surplus of exportable Canadian honey,” says Hicks.

The project will document the distribution and intensity of known and potential diseases, pests and parasites in Canada’s commercial beekeeping industry. This information is currently lacking, and is needed to continue to explore science-based solutions to protect honeybees.

Funding for the study comes from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriMarketing Program. Additional funding partners include CropLife Canada, the Alberta Beekeepers Commission and the Manitoba Beekeepers Association.