Between the devastating global bee virus and the terrible weather, many honey farmers are in serious trouble.
“Our honey crops are way down,” Pia Awram of Honeyview Farm told the Progress. “It was a double whammy this year.”
Honeyview usually has about 4,000 hives at the Rosedale farm, but this year about half of their honey bees didn’t make it through the winter and spring.
They’re not alone. Bee colonies around the world are reporting high winter mortality numbers, and scientists are pointing to pesticide over-use, air pollution and parasites among the possible causes.
The local honey farmers had to act fast, so they divided up the hives, gave the remaining bees new queens, and are now hoping the colonies will thrive and succeed.
The Honeyview apiary is run by the father-and-son team of Jerry Awram and Peter Awram. Pia Awram operates the Honeyview farm store and packing operations.
The flowering of local blueberries, raspberries and blackberries is over for the summer, and the yields were all “very poor.”
The endless rain has also hurt them since the bees can’t fly in it, and the flowers don’t yield nectar, and that translated into a dramatic drop in the honey crop.
“We’ve never seen a year this bad,” said Awram.
The local farm has been making delicious honey in this location since 1985.
With the weather this spring and summer, it’s going to mean their poorest year on record.
“Berry crops are amazingly good, but not the honey crop,” she said.
Their bees usually pollinate the flowers needed by local growers to produce a good berry set.
“But we could barely supply the demand this spring,” said Awram.
The estimated value of honey bees for crop pollination nation-wide is more than $2 billion, according to the Canadian Honey Council.
Just to keep the bees alive month after month of rainy and cool weather, the Awrams had to spend a whopping $25,000 on sugar syrup and pollen supplement.
“We also spent time equalizing the colonies and dividing them to replace the lost ones. We had two extra full-time beekeepers.”
Those extra expenses add up for the hard-working farmers.
At this time of year, the hives are typically moved to Alberta for clover and alfalfa.
“Most have gone now,” she said.
But the weather has been just as bad across Alberta, as it has been here, she said.
The good news is there will be just enough honey from Honeyview to supply the provincial market and the public, but unfortunately they anticipate having to disappoint the bulk buyers in the export market this year.
“We hope our customers will understand if the prices have to be raised.”
Everyone is invited to visit the farm store to peruse a range of honey and bee related products like pollen or propolis, or try the Aromatica Fine Teas and Soaps on Young Road, Yellow Barn Country Produce or Cannor Nursery on Lickman Road.