Beekeepers in Nova Scotia are hoping to keep a pesky insect out of the province — and far away from honey crops.
“It does have the potential to really damage our honey crops, and definitely damage our bottom lines,” said Lauren Park, a beekeeper with Cosman and Whidden Honey, and president of the Nova Scotia Beekeepers Association.
Park says beekeepers are hoping to keep the small hive beetle out of Nova Scotia for as long as possible.
The beetle has the ability to live inside a colony of bees and can compromise the honey.
“The saliva that they secrete will kind of ferment the honey very quickly, making it a really big issue for beekeepers, as well as for colonies of bees,” Park said.
“The beetle inside the colony can also trigger a honeybee to feed it,” she said.
“There’s not really a successful way of eradicating these beetles, and it seems that wherever they end up is where they stay. They’re very hard to get rid of once they show up.”
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Earlier this year, there was an import request from a blueberry grower in Nova Scotia to bring in hives from Ontario for part of the summer, as a way to help pollinate the crops.
After months of lobbying the government, the Department of Agriculture decided not to bring in bees from Ontario.
“The Beekeepers Association and many beekeepers across the province really felt like that was putting our population of bees at unnecessary risk of this beetle infestation, because it’s really, really hard to ensure that that beetle wouldn’t have come in, even with a strict inspection process,” Park explained.
Recently, the small hive beetle has been found in New Brunswick honeybee colonies.
The New Brunswick government says the beetle was found in colonies that were imported from one Ontario beekeeper to pollinate wild blueberries in the Acadian Peninsula last month.
As a result, 12 New Brunswick beekeepers’ colonies that were in close proximity to the infested Ontario colonies were quarantined.
This week, two beetles were confirmed in colonies from two different beekeepers in Rivière-du-Portage and Aulac.
“The department is reaching out to all New Brunswick beekeepers to inform them of the small hive beetle presence in the province,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet in a news release.
“Our staff is working with the New Brunswick Beekeepers Association through a monitoring program and is taking measures aimed at preventing the beetle from becoming established in our province.”
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Park says the same thing could have happened in Nova Scotia.
“Beekeepers across the province really do feel like we’ve dodged a bullet this year, that we would be in a really similar situation as New Brunswick if we had brought those bees from Ontario.”
Although no beetles have been found in Nova Scotia, the issue is still top of mind for beekeepers in the province.
“The beetle definitely has the ability to fly many miles. So, it is really concerning that it was found so close to the Nova Scotia border,” Park said. “Right now, we’re… in constant talks with the Department of Agriculture, making sure that the lines of communication are open.”