Atlantic Bee Tour 2022

Thursday 25 August 2022

This past weekend ATTTA was pleased to attend the Atlantic Bee Tour held in Antigonish! The Atlantic Bee Tour, previously known as the Maritime Bee Tour, is a biennial beekeeper event that had a couple of postponements due to COVID-19. It is an informative and community building experience in which beekeepers from the Atlantic Provinces are invited to gather at a local beekeeping operation for tours, workshops, and an opportunity to connect with one another. In this week’s blog, we will reflect on the events of this most recent Bee Tour.

Atlantic Bee Tour 2022

Well known local beekeepers, Mario Swinkels and Ben Cornect were the hosts of the 2022 Atlantic Bee Tour which was organized by the Nova Scotia Beekeepers Association. The event began at Pins Bowling Center in Antigonish, which provided a very pleasant environment to gather and listen to presentations. The first speaker was Chris Lockhart, a prominent NB Beekeeper, who spoke about the benefits of running single deep brood chambers as compared to doubles. He addressed concerns about overwintering starvation and excessive swarming and was convincing that with proper management, single brood chamber colonies are a valid and intriguing option in Atlantic Canada. Some of the benefits he suggested included: increase honey collection, easier maintenance of burr comb build up, finding the queen, and the overall reduced quantity of hive bodies!

Next, NS beekeeper Lauren Park presented about queen raising in Atlantic Canada, providing a broad overview of the steps involved in queen rearing, from choosing the colonies to use in raising queens to harvesting the mature cells for mating. Raising queens locally, better supports our industry and has the potential to lead to more a climatically-hardy, locally adapted stock of Atlantic honey bees.

The next portion of the evening split the group into commercial and small-scale beekeepers. While the commercial beekeepers engaged in a round table discussion about the state of the industry, ATTTA presented on managing varroa mites throughout the beekeeping season. Having a solid grasp on varroa mite management will be integral to the success of all beekeeping operations in the Maritime region.  We suggest an integrated pest management approach, which includes regular monitoring and diversity of treatments. 

The event resumed the following morning, which was a beautiful sunny day. The day began with a thorough tour of Cornect Family Farm. We toured the extraction facility, honey house, and an overwintering nuc yard. One unique aspect of this operation is a hydraulic crane used for hive transportation. With this machine, Ben is able to more rapidly and smoothly transport beehives to wild blueberry fields for pollination. The crane is fast, efficient, and causes almost no disturbance to the bees within, making a much more pleasant experience for late night hive loading.

Crane lifting a pallet of four beehives (ATTTA©2022).

Next, was a tour of Swinkels Bee Products and afternoon workshops. The Swinkels’ operation was interesting to see, as it is in a transitional period while they are expanding their extraction facility to increase their capacity. Seeing the current operation and the progress of the expansion allowed both new and established beekeepers to imagine the potential of their own operation and learn from the experience of an established and successful beekeeper. After the tour, the day wrapped up with four small-group workshops. ATTTA and others led workshops on a range of beekeeping topics.

Mario Swinkels discussing his creamed honey machine (ATTTA©2022).

Overall, the Atlantic Bee Tour was a lovely and informative event. Thank you to everyone involved and we look forward to the next event in 2024, held in another yet to be determined Atlantic Canadian province!

Connecting with ATTTA Specialists

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