Industry at risk: Manitoba beekeepers suffer heavy losses due to bad weather – Winnipeg

Manitoba farmers have had it tough, first facing drought conditions for most of 2021 and then more extreme weather this year.

It’s been tough for growers of all kinds and the 2022 season isn’t starting so hot for beekeepers. Is.

Ray Giguere of Giguere Honey Farms told 680 CJOB that he expects to lose up to 60% of his bees if weather conditions don’t improve soon because bees need time to grow in the spring. after reaching their weakest point.

“At the first peak in early April, I was aiming for around 40% (losses), and if things didn’t heat up, I thought I would probably hit around 60%, which seems to be happening.

“Seventy to 80% (that’s what) I’ve heard in some of the worst case scenarios.

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“Anything to do with agriculture and animal husbandry is like that – you are susceptible to bad weather, disease.”

Giguere said the cold weather means nothing is growing right now and starvation may be a factor for bees. They can be supplemented with food, but that mostly depends on mother nature. Weeds, like dandelions, he says, are often the bees’ first form of nectar after a long, cold winter.

“I hope those dandelions show up soon, but we need that warm weather.

“Don’t spray the dandelions – save that lovely golden stream on your lawn for the bees, this year more than ever.”

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Michael Clark of Clark Apiaries, a much larger operation with more than a century of history, told Global News over the weekend that as winter approached, everything seemed OK with his bees, but not in spring.

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Clark estimates that his losses could eclipse 70%, or a loss of around 1,200 colonies.

“In the spring, everything is extinguished. Nothing is normal. They died during the winter,” he said.

“We sent samples to have it tested to see if it was environmental to the food in the hive that they eat. The mites always contribute to a loss, but (this time) I think it’s more environmental, personally — a dry year last year and the drought in Manitoba.

Clark said he had already had to lay off staff and was looking at a total loss of about five employees.

“The way spring is showing up and the hives are showing up, it doesn’t look like a good year,” he said.

“I’m not going to say that I’m not going to make money, but we will have difficult discussions with the bank. The industry is in crisis, across Manitoba.

“There are a few pockets of guys who have had decent overwinterings, but I don’t know if the industry will pull through. It is in danger.

Clark said the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated supply chain issues have also affected the cost of honey, creating a delicate situation that could impact beekeepers for years to come.

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© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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