Discover why Canada’s dependence on queen bee imports is a risky strategy – National

Canada is relying on queen bee imports. Why it’s a risky crutch - National

“Chilean queen bees have become a lifeline for Canadian beekeepers facing harsh winters and declining bee health. The practice of importing queen bees from warmer countries like Chile, New Zealand, Australia, and the southern United States has become increasingly common in recent years. While some swear by the benefits of importing these queens, others raise concerns about the risks associated with this heavy reliance on foreign monarchs.

The Beekeeper’s Dilemma: To Import or to Raise?

For beekeepers like Rebecca Krowelski, who runs 10 hives in a Winnipeg suburban neighborhood, the decision between importing queens or raising her own is a nuanced one. While she appreciates the hardiness of local queens acclimatized to Canadian winters, she also values the freedom and control that comes with raising her own queens.

Experts, however, like Jeremy Olthof from Alberta’s Tees Bees Inc., argue that importing queens is a necessity for commercial producers dealing with large-scale pollination demands. The cost of an imported queen, around $50 each, is a small price to pay for ensuring the strength and productivity of thousands of hives.

A Queen Bee’s Journey: From Chile to Canada

The process of importing queen bees involves careful planning, international transportation, and a delicate introduction to the new hive. Once the queen arrives in Canada, she must be gradually introduced to her new colony to ensure acceptance and successful integration.

Despite the regulatory hurdles and challenges associated with adapting to colder climates, the benefits of importing queen bees are evident in the steady influx of foreign monarchs into Canadian hives. With bee health declining and winter losses on the rise, beekeepers are left with few options but to turn to imported queens to replenish their colonies and ensure their survival.

Facing an Uncertain Future: The Risks of Reliance

As the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists pointed out, the reliance on foreign queen bees poses a significant risk to the industry. Questions about the long-term viability of queens accustomed to warmer climates in Canada’s harsh winters remain unanswered, leaving beekeepers in a precarious position.

While the debate between importing queens and raising local ones continues, one thing is clear – the fate of Canadian beekeeping industry depends on finding a balance between the benefits and risks associated with this practice. As beekeepers like Krowelski and Olthof navigate the challenges of maintaining healthy colonies in a changing climate, the future of Canadian beekeeping hangs in the balance.”



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