Report on The Prince Edward Island Beekeepers Association AGM 2022

Thursday 15 December 2022

The time of year has begun for beekeeper gatherings and meetings. Winter is a great opportunity to connect with the community, reflect on the season past, and start planning for the year to come! This past Saturday, the Prince Edward Island Beekeepers Association held their Annual General Meeting in Charlottetown. ATTTA was pleased to be a part of this lovely event and will reflect on the highlights of the meeting in this week’s blog.

Report on the Prince Edward Island Beekeepers Association AGM 2022

Members of the PEIBA came together this weekend and were joined by guest speakers from across the country. The day began with an informative update from Provincial Apiarist, Cameron Menzies, who provided a snapshot of the PEI beekeeping industry. The growing industry continues to pursue the goal of being self-sufficient for honey bee pollination of wild blueberry fields. Towards this end, the 2022 Pollination Expansion Program approved over $300 thousand year to support beekeepers. Since the program began, the industry has seen 25% hive increase on the island. To fill the existing pollination gap, additional hives are imported primarily from Ontario. Brood inspections by Cameron and his team indicated no signs of biosecurity threats in these colonies. Conditions for pollination were good this year, and the island saw high yields of wild blueberries, the second largest yield to date! This is optimistic for the province, as productive wild blueberry land continues to expand.

Beekeeper Ian Steppler joined the meeting remotely from Alberta, where he produces his popular YouTube Channel, A Canadian Beekeeper’s Blog.  Ian offered insight into techniques to improve apiary sustainability by maintaining a reliable stock of nucleus colonies to replace seasonal losses. The cycle begins by overwintering a collection of healthy nucs to replace winter losses. Next, spring assessments reveal additional unproductive colonies to be replaced and identify prolific colonies which are used to resupply the nuc bank. Ian also discussed his queen production system. Internal queen rearing facilitates rapid nuc production during the beekeeping season, which can then be used to replace weak hives in the fall and provide an abundance of strong nucleus colonies to overwinter. In cyclical fashion, the sustainability of the apiary is supported by an abundance of available nucs to replace dead or failing colonies.

Paul Kelly, from the University of Guelph Honey Bee Research Centre, participated in the meeting as well. Paul emphasized ways that a beekeeping community can move towards self-sufficiency by support from within. Speaking from his experience, Paul discussed how the Ontario industry improved their regional self-sufficiency by reducing overwintering losses, improving queen production techniques, replacing losses internally with hive splits, and overwintering nucs to restore winter hive losses. 

ATTTA provided our team and research updates, as well, as we continue to make our way across the Atlantic Region to join the beekeeping and wild blueberry associations in their annual gatherings. Starting with an encouraging address to association members, President Troy Fraser concluded the event with a constructive business meeting. Overall, it was a successful event and ATTTA looks forward to the coming year for PEI beekeepers!

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