Review of NS Beekeepers’ Association AGM 2024

Thursday 29 February 2024

This past weekend the Nova Scotia Beekeepers’ Association held their annual general meeting in Truro, Nova Scotia. The Atlantic Tech Transfer Team for Apiculture was pleased to attend and present at this year’s meeting. Read this week’s blog to learn about the highlights of the event, and to find out what is happening in the Nova Scotia beekeeping industry.

Review of NS Beekeepers’ Association AGM 2024

Another successful annual general meeting of the NS Beekeepers’ Association occurred on February 24th in Truro, NS, where approximately 90 beekeepers and/or industry representatives were in attendance. The event included a commercial beekeeper meeting, several tradeshow exhibits, and multiple guest speakers including the Atlantic Tech Transfer Team for Apiculture. During the AGM, the NSBA also held their annual business meeting.

Past and present team members of the Atlantic Tech Transfer Team for Apiculture at the Nova Scotia Beekeepers’ Association annual general meeting 2024 (Left to right: Jillian Shaw, Rebecca Campbell, Kayla Gaudet, Andrew Byers, Jonathan Wort, John MacDonald, and Greg Dugas).

Jason Sproule, the provincial apiculturist of Nova Scotia, gave an update on the Nova Scotia beekeeping industry for 2023. As of 2023, Nova Scotia has 912 beekeepers (of which approximately 200 are newly registered beekeepers), and over 27 thousand active honey bee colonies spread across over 1000 apiaries. There are 41 beekeepers contributing to queen production, and an impressive 416 beekeepers contributing to honey production. The average honey crop for Nova Scotia this past year was 21 kg per hive. The Nova Scotia honey bee winter loss average continues to be below the national average, with a provincial loss of 15.6% in the winter of 2022-2023.

The average pollination rental price was $161.56, but when removing outliers the average is closer to $185. There is a continued need for pollination units in Nova Scotia, but blueberry growers who made pollination arrangements early in the season say their pollination needs were met.

This past year there were 153 apiary inspections across Nova Scotia. Of these inspections American Foulbrood was detected in one operation, and the department was quick to respond by managing any disease transmission risks.

The province is currently working to improve vet-client relationships for the administration of antimicrobials to honey bee colonies, such as oxytetracycline. Information has been provided to NS veterinarians through their professional association on how they can access information and training to better support the province’s beekeepers.

During the provincial report, there was a reminder of the importance of properly managing swarms. When beekeeping, it is important to try to prevent swarms by splitting colonies, if possible try to recapture swarms, consider setting up swarm traps and lures to make recapturing easier, and, if experienced, volunteer to collect swarms in your area. All of the mentioned tasks will help prevent colony loss of production, prevent property damage, and help maintain a positive public opinion of honey bees.

Mathew Boland, of the Saint Mary’s School of Commerce, gave an overview of the NSBA Cost of Production Tool. The tool is designed to help Nova Scotia beekeepers determine the economic feasibility and profitability of entering the industry or business expansion. The tool can be downloaded from the NSBA website.

Rodney Reid, the Atlantic representative for the Canadian Honey Council, gave a brief overview of the work being done by the CHC. Currently, CHC is focused on stock issues, such as the associated risks of the importation of queens and packages into Canada. They are also focused on preventing honey fraud in Canada.

During the morning session attendees also heard from the Minister of Agriculture, Greg Morrow, who spoke about the work the Department of Agriculture is doing to support the beekeeping industry, such as the implementation of the Apiculture Sustainability Growth and Health Program, which will continue next fiscal year.

The keynote address of the meeting was from Doug McRory who spoke about building a sustainable apiary. Doug explained the various tasks involved in his beekeeping operation, with a specific focus on his strategy to make nucleus colonies and queens, and how he manages various pests and diseases of honey bees.

Neil Erb gave an update on behalf of the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia. Overall, the wild blueberry industry is struggling with continued decreased margins of profit. The selling price of wild blueberries is not increasing at the same rate as input costs of production. He suggested that wild blueberries should get a premium price over highbush blueberries and European blueberries. This would help stabilize the farmgate price of wild blueberries in Nova Scotia.

The final presentation of the day was from John Murray who spoke about the business of beekeeping. John gave a great presentation where he explained some of the economics of growing a beekeeping operation, and he highlighted how useful the NSBA Cost of Production Model Tool can be when beekeepers are trying to make decisions about economic feasibility.

The event wrapped up with the NSBA Honorary Lifetime Membership Award, which was presented to Tom Cosmon and Mary Anne Whidden. This award is presented to those who have made significant contributions to the association and the beekeeping industry. Congratulations to Tom and Mary Anne for receiving this well-deserved award.

Thank you to all members of the NS Beekeepers’ Association who helped organize this great event, especially the NSBA president Duncan Wetzel, and to those who work to support the beekeeping industry of Nova Scotia. 

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