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Head of Alberta Beekeepers Commission says rainy summer has added to industry woes

Alberta honey producers say cold, wet weather leads to poor year
WATCH ABOVE: Cool and rainy weather weather is exacerbating what has already been a difficult year for beekeepers in central Alberta, according to the head of an industry association in the province. Sarah Komadina reports.

Cool and rainy weather weather is exacerbating what has already been a difficult year for beekeepers in central Alberta, according to the head of an industry association in the province.

Alberta Beekeepers Commission president Jeremy Olthof told Global News on Monday that despite some warmer and sunnier weather expected later this week, he fears it will be too late to offset the problems posed by the grey weather that has loomed over the central part of the province for much of the season.

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According to Olthof, bees do not come out of their hives when conditions are cloudy and wet. As a result, he said his 4,700 or so hives will likely only produce about 80 pounds of honey per hive when he usually is able to harvest about 150 pounds from each hive.

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Olthof also said many beekeepers’ bees have been hit hard by mites, resulting in significant colony loss.

“After a poor year crop-wise, if we go into a bad year and have another bad winter and high losses, it’s going to be really tough on a lot of beekeepers,” he said.

The Alberta Beekeepers Commission has drafted a letter it intends to send to Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen that says many of the province’s beekeepers “are facing partial to total crop failure of the honey crop.”

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The organization is seeking help from the government to keep the industry going during tough times.

“The failure of the honey crop as well as loss of income from weakened colonies and loss of income from reduced pollination contracts have resulted in many of Alberta’s beekeepers struggling and, in some cases, failing to sustain their beekeeping businesses,” the letter reads in part.

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There are about 180 commercial beekeepers and about 1,200 hobby beekeepers in Alberta, according to the Alberta Beekeepers Commission. It claims that is the largest number of bee farmers in any Canadian province.

–With files from Global News’ Sarah Komadina