Hugh Simpson Eco Day - The Hive and the Honeybee


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Hugh will cover the basics about honey bees and beekeeping with focus on how he is adapting to changes in the natural and manufactured Ag environment. This session will leave plenty of time for interaction and question period.

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Hugh Simpson Eco Day - The Hive and the Honeybee

  1. 1. Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week 2014 Hive and the Honey Bee Beekeeping and Beekeepers Grey/Bruce County Hugh Simpson Commercial Beekeeper
  2. 2. Background  3000 Beekeepers in Ontario  87,000 hives  200 Commercial beekeepers 80% of beehives  Grey County:  Approx. 120 hobby Beekeepers  Approx. 16 Commercial with over 7000 hives  One of the most productive areas for Nectar in Eastern Canada
  3. 3.  Grey/Bruce region has a number of large- scale Beekeepers each with 1000 hives or more  Many are multigenerational with hives in the same bee yards for over 50 years  Commercial pollination continues to be important in this region  The region also supplies honey bee Queens and bees in nucleus (nucs) colonies and full sized colonies to other parts of Ontario and Canada
  4. 4.  Pollination is responsible and necessary for 1/3 of the world’s food - “if its colorful and juicy” its insect pollinated  Honey bee is the most significant of the pollinators  Over 1500 Grey County hives go out to fruit growers for pollination within this region  Common for Honey bee pollination to increase a canola crop yield 25% and critical for apple crop  In the US almond pollination involves “millions of beehives” and honey production is secondary  Honey production for Grey and Bruce ranges upwards of 1,000,000 lbs
  5. 5. Honey Bee Health  “So how are the bees?”  Average Winter losses in Ontario approx 30% with wide ranges both above and below  Threats include: Disease Pesticides Parasites Wildlife damage Forage, quality and amount Weather and yes…..Beekeeper error
  6. 6. Honey Bee Health  The Varroa “Mite” is prolific and is believed to be the vector for many problems affecting the health of the hive  Pesticide exposure and its effects is under great scrutiny right now--”neonics”  A strong hive with lots of healthy bees has a better chance of surviving threats - Beekeepers’ work is all about building and keeping strong hives
  7. 7. BioSecurity -- Bees and our Borders  Keeping the Canada US Border closed to the importation of bees from the United States to Canada  This policy is under pressure as trade between US and Canada opens further and as bee colony losses remain high - but it is critical for us to preserve the healthy bee genetics work which is being done in Canada and specifically in Ontario
  8. 8.  Many of the health issues related to bee mortality have over time been imported or are threatened to be imported thru the transport of bees from high risk / affected areas:  Varroa Mites - key threat now found in Canada  Small Hive Beetles- now found in Canada  American Foul Brood- found in Canada today  Africanized Bee genetics - not yet  Colony Collapse Disorder CCD - yet to be confirmed here in Canada
  9. 9. Partners with Growers, Government and Industry Growers: Provide access to their land for beeyards  Consider honey bee health in Ag practices; crop spray, seed treatments (IPM), crop rotation, mtnce of fence rows  Include crops with nectar yields, clovers, alfalfa, trefoil, canola and let natural wildflowers dandelions, goldenrod, joe pye weed etc flourish in fence rows  Employ local hives for their pollination needs  Buy local honey :) 
  10. 10. Government:  Acknowledge and promote the importance of the honey bee to the food and agriculture system  Introduce and pass laws/ policies and programs that support the health of the honeybee and the beekeeping sector e.g.  Promote  Support the use of local / domestic honey objective scientific research with funding  Monitoring and enforcement of Ag crop spray/seed treatment, IPM and Best Management programs  Allowances for beeyards within rural municipalities  Promotion of natural forage areas in municipal and provincial parks, ditches, fence row retention  Retention of the Provincial Bees Act as separate and distinct from the Animal health Act for Ontario
  11. 11. Industry:  Crop Protection product mftr’s / distributors  Continued research, development, commercialization and education for effective and economic pollinator/environmentally -safe products and their usage  Planting Equipment mftr’s / distributors  Ramp up on engineering, production and training for equipment and use that considers the threat of unintended consequences toward pollinators and the environment in general  Crop Insurers  Modeling and introducing fair insurance programs that include non-treated crop applications
  12. 12. Beekeeping = Managing the risks and leveraging the opportunities (sound familiar?)
  13. 13. Managing Production and Leveraging Opportunity Production risks: Pests - IPM natural and other treatment applications and practices for Varroa Mites, lethal Brood Diseases, even for Bears and Coons/skunks and …yes….even Bee Hive Rustlers :( Forage quality - work closely with farmers on cooperative use of pesticides, crop selections, access and Ag practice, promotion of fence rows and natural landscapes for forage variety Weather - just wait or hurry up Market risks: Honey prices - diversify markets between, commodity, wholesale and retail Buyers Market development - Network, Educate, Cooperate Get on-line - @twitter, Facebook, Instagram
  14. 14. Time for Questions?  Thank you for your support of the Honey bee and Grey/Bruce County Beekeepers Hugh Simpson Twitter @ospreybeekeeper Facebook OspreyBluffsBeekeeper