Slides from The Alberta Beekeepers Association Address to the Super Canola Workshops
held January & February 1999
Bees and Flowers - an ageless relationship
on any of these pictures for an enlargement
Many flowering plants produce nectar in order to attract insects such as honey bees, which results in cross pollination and seed set.
A Family Business
Beekeeping operations in Alberta are mostly family operations. Commercial outfits vary from 250 to 8,000 hives, averaging about 1000 hives. There are 750 beekeepers registered in Alberta (200 are commercial) running over 200,000 colonies.
Since border closure in 1987 to importing bees from California and the U.S. all hives are wintered here, both indoors and outdoors. These hives have been dug out of the snow, ready for inspection , pollen supplements, and mite treatments which begins in early March.
Splitting over-wintered hives
The hives are unwrapped in April and the brood chambers reversed in May. This is a strong over-wintered colony ready for splitting. Queens for new splits are imported from Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia. Over 50,000 queens are imported annually to replace winter losses, requeen or improve genetic stock and control swarming.
Bees = Yield On
In late May the new splits are moved onto canola, alfalfa, clover and borage crops in advance of the nectar producing season. Many overwintered hives remain in protected locations year round in the vicinity of crop land. Bees forage up to 2 miles but will work most heavily on the crops nearest to the yard site.
Bees forage for both nectar and pollen. Pollen provides the colony with the protein, minerals, and vitamins important for the production of brood in a growing colony. The yellow and orange colored pollen pellets are clearly visible on these bees which have landed on a truck deck that was blocking the flight path to the hives. A great deal of cross pollination occurs while bees forage. To produce one pound of honey it takes 500 bees, tapping 2 million flowers and flying 55,000 miles over a full season. An individual bee makes 25 trips per day, visiting more than 1,000 flowers.
Bees Laden with Pollen
Aim for Peak
as Major Honey Flow starts
The beekeepers job is to manipulate hives to reach peak population just as the major honey flows are beginning. A strong healthy colony will have 80,000 bees in July.
Hybrid Canola Seed Production & Bees
A number of hybrid canola seed companies in southern Alberta contract beehives annually to pollinate their seed crops. In 1999 there will be 40,000 hives moved onto hybrid seed fields. Average contract rates are in the $105 - $115 per hive range, with up to 3 hives used per acre.
Canola Field in Bloom
male and female lines require cross pollination
This is a hybrid field in bloom with the male and female lines
Successful Hybrid Canola
in the Swath
This demonstrates the successful Hybrid seed production in the swath.
Dead bees - due to insecticide
Unfortunately, sometimes very beneficial pollinators are killed when insecticides are applied to blooming crops in order to control crop pests.
Protecting Bees Brochure
Manitoba has launched a very successful extension effort to increase the communication between crop and honey producers in order to minimize bee kills.
Little to no bloom left here
And as mentioned in the pamphlet heres a well timed aerial application - very little to no bloom so no foraging bees.
Here we have a good looking canola field - the crop growers reward.
Beekeepers Reward - The beekeepers rewards are hives full of honey, which also means many seed sets will have occurred due to cross pollination as the bees foraged countless flowers to produce this crop of honey. This is a WIN - WIN situation for the crop grower and the beekeeper
Detailed inside view - hives full of honey
Neighbourhood Employment Opportunities
A healthy bee industry is also very good for local employment as honey extracting is labor intensive and provides seasonal jobs for students in the extracting plants and for more skilled people in the bee yards
Bees do sting!
The beekeeper sometimes gets the stick along with the carrot as BEES DO STING to protect their hive. A commercial beekeeper running about 1000 - 2000 hives will get about 1000 stings every year (good for the beekeeper as it is said bee stings help prevent rheumatism). Good for the seed producer as he gets extra seed set with no pain! Again a WIN - WIN situation.
This is the President of the Alberta Beekeepers Association
(who prepared this presentation)
The bee season is officially over when all the hives are fed and wrapped. for the long winter ahead.
'Protecting Pollinators - Everyone Benefits' pamphlet is property of The Manitoba Beekeepers Association
Original Super Canola Workshop slide presentation is propery of the Alberta Beekeepers Association
This web version of the presentation ©1999 by Allen Dick
Links are welcome. Copying is prohibited.