Atlantic Canada Beekeeping Season Update

Thursday 10 June 2021


It is our birthday week! One whole year of blogging and what we want for our birthday is to hear your comments; keep reading for information on a survey to submit anonymous feedback.
We hope you have enjoyed learning about queens over the past short series on queen rearing in the Atlantic Canada region. Also, this week we are catching up on some things we want to share with you. We include a general beekeeping update for the Maritime region. Episode 5 of our ‘What’s the Buzz with ATTTA’ beekeeping podcast is now live and ready to be enjoyed.  For a sneak peek into our current podcast topics read on! We are also sharing an exciting opportunity from Perennia to take food-based marketing and sales to the next level.  Busy week for our birthday blog!

Happy 1st Birthday, “What’s the Buzz with ATTTA” Blog!

This week marks the one-year milestone since ATTTA began this bee-blogging journey! Thank you to our readers, we appreciate your interest and support greatly.  There was never any doubt that a blog for Atlantic Canadian beekeepers would be successful but the number of visitors has been surprising!  We have had over ten thousand (10 000!) visits this year and are currently exceeding 1000 visitors per month.  Already for the month of June, we have had over 500 people read our blog.  Although most of our readers are from Canada and the USA, we have regular visitors from many European countries, Israel, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates.

To help celebrate ATTTA blog’s 1st birthday and improve it for the upcoming year, we have put together a quick survey and would love to get feedback directly from our readers! Thank you in advance for helping us grow and better our blog. This survey is ONLINE.


Atlantic Canada Beekeeping Season Update

Regular seasonal benchmarks are becoming less reliable for planning our beekeeping activities.  Providing further evidence of climate change, this year’s early spring has seen record breaking high temperatures and an early and dramatic build up of bees.  As beekeepers, we generally use 10⁰C as the threshold for beekeeping activity.  This is not an arbitrary number as it is also used as one important measure of seasonal growth and development: Base Degree Days.  Simply put, Base Degree Days, or growing degree days, are days which have a temperature which exceed 10⁰C as an indication of days suitable for plant and insect development.  As an example, the figure shows this seasons Degree Days measured in Nova Scotia at the Kentville weather station.  We can see that this season has already exceeded both the five and the ten-year average.  Although this does not reflect all areas of Atlantic Canada, it is an excellent model to indicate similar trends across our region.  There are implications for beekeepers to the early and warm season which are discussed below!

Base Degree Days Recorded at the Kentville, NS weather station: March to June 2021

Varroa Mites:

As a result of the mild winter and early spring in the Maritime region, varroa mites may infest honeybee hives with greater force this year. Many beekeepers have observed earlier brood rearing cycles in their hives, which allows colonies to undergo more cycles of brood production in total this season. Since varroa mites reproduce in honey bee brood cells, this early start in brood rearing also allows varroa mites more opportunities and cycles to reproduce with the potential to significantly increase infestation levels in hives. Beyond their feeding directly on the blood of bees, varroa mites also vector a number of harmful honey bee viruses. Regular monitoring of varroa mite levels in hives throughout the entire season is highly recommended to ensure infestation levels are kept low.  Be vigilant this year!

Small Hive Beetle:

Not a serious problem in our regions but nonetheless a reminder to keep an eye out for small hive beetles this season. There are traps available that are specifically designed to catch small hive beetles in honey bee hives, making monitoring for this pest a simple task for beekeepers to integrate into their apiary management strategies. The small hive beetle is a reportable honey bee pest in all Atlantic Canada provinces.  New Brunswick, the only Atlantic Canadian province reporting small hive beetle, has an excellent fact sheet on monitoring which can be accessed on the Dept. of Agriculture Aquiculture and Fisheries website HERE. 

Winter Mortalities:

This year’s mild winter and early spring resulted in lower mortality numbers in many beekeeping operations. The earlier spring allowed beekeepers to start beekeeping and feeding their colonies earlier in the season, supporting their success coming out of overwintering. Although this may not have been the case for all beekeepers, the overall mortality rate appears above average compared to previous years.  We will await reports from our provincial apiarist to confirm with statistics but feedback from beekeepers is positive!


We predict that 2021 will be remembered as the season of swarms!  Already, swarms have been reported in unusual numbers and earlier in the season.  Beekeepers participating in pollination are seeing many hives swarming on blueberry fields.  This is not an unusual occurrence in itself but beekeepers suggest numbers are above normal.  Although a reassuring sign of strong and healthy colonies, beekeepers will need to be extra watchful to ensure they manage their swarms this year.  If you need some advice on how to prevent swarms visit our website and speak to your mentor or give us a call.


What’s the Buzz with ATTTA Beekeeping Podcast 

Episode 5 of ATTTA’s beekeeping podcast is now live and ready for your listening and learning enjoyment! This episode of What’s the Buzz with ATTTA Beekeeping Podcast reflects back to simpler times of beekeeping in the Atlantic region.  We talk to well-known local beekeeper Fletcher Colpitts about early days in beekeeping during times of significantly less pest and disease pressures.  Our talk includes a brief history of the pollination industry in eastern Canada.  We move through the 40 years of Fletcher’s beekeeping career towards a discussion of what the future might hold for our region’s beekeepers.  Fletcher draws on his experience as a third-generation apiarist, New Brunswick Chief Apiary Inspector, and a lifetime of thoughtful beekeeping to provide a unique insight into our industry. Access ATTTA’s podcast episodes HERE.

Special Announcement from Perennia

We are excited to re-launch the Accelerated Direct Marketing Program. For those not familiar with the program, it aims to help food-based companies quickly, conveniently, and professionally create an online store with product listing and e-commerce features.

This program is available to Nova Scotia agriculture and aquaculture operations and food businesses through a partnership with Local Line. Eligible businesses will receive up to the first six months of the core service free! The application for this program is available on the Local Line website.

We are also hosting a webinar with the Local Line team on June 17th at 12:30 PM. Registration for this session is available here.

Connecting with ATTTA Specialists

If you’d like to connect with ATTTA specialists or learn more about our program, you can: