Review of NB Beekeepers’ Association AGM 2024

Thursday 7 March 2024

This past weekend, the Atlantic Tech Transfer Team for Apiculture had the pleasure of attending the New Brunswick Beekeepers’ Association Annual General Meeting in Dieppe, NB. The meeting was well-attended, with over 100 beekeepers, blueberry growers, and industry representatives from across Canada. The meeting spanned two days, March 1st and 2nd, and included a tradeshow, multiple speakers, industry updates, workshops, an annual business meeting, and a panel discussion. Read this week’s blog to learn the highlights of the event.

Review of NB Beekeepers’ Association AGM 2024

Another successful annual general meeting of the NB Beekeepers’ Association occurred on March 1st and 2nd in Dieppe, NB, where approximately 100 beekeepers and/or industry representatives were in attendance. Ian Steppler was the keynote speaker of the event, where he gave 3 presentations over the two-day event. Ian is well known for his YouTube channel “A Canadian’s Beekeeper Blog”, which has over 80 thousand subscribers, and highlights his 20 years of beekeeping experience.

Ian spoke about transitioning from a sideline to a commercial operation. During his presentation, Ian described how he effectively manages people, incorporates various pieces of equipment into his operation, and manages his time, so that his large-scale commercial beekeeping operation runs as efficiently as possible.

Ian gave a presentation on queen rearing. Ian’s beekeeping operation raises 700-1000 queens annually. Ian outlined the main advantages of raising local queens, including quality/longevity, availability, associated costs, and biosecurity. He discussed how he selects his breeder colonies and the wide variety of traits he selects for, as well as providing detailed information on the timeline he follows when rearing queens.

The final presentation by Ian Steppler was on nuc production. In his operation, they produce nucs to replace winter losses each year. Having a supply of nucs going into the winter ensures that winter losses can be replaced come Spring, and during a good year for winter loss, any surplus of nucs can be sold for additional profit.

New Brunswick Beekeepers’ Association Annual General Meeting 2024.

During the meeting attendees heard from the provincial apiculturist, Chris Maund. New Brunswick currently has 558 beekeepers (7% commercial) and over 12,000 honey bee colonies. The average honey production in New Brunswick this past year was 18.9kg/hive. The price of pollination rentals for 2023 ranged between $157 to $200 per hive for wild blueberry pollination and between $125 to $275 for cranberry pollination. The province imported approximately 19,000 colonies, the majority of which came from Ontario. Currently, the New Brunswick border is closed to the importation of bumble bees from Mexico and honey bee queens from Ukraine. Overall, the province had a good year for overwinter loss, with an average of 24.2%, which is below the national and Atlantic Canada average.

Attendees also heard from the chief apiary inspector, Karen Thurlow. No cases of American Foulbrood or Small Hive Beetle were found in New Brunswick colonies in 2023. For Varroa mite treatment, Apivar continues to be the leading treatment in New Brunswick, with oxalic acid being a close second.

Mike Melanson gave a blueberry industry update during the meeting. There were 60 million pounds of blueberries produced in New Brunswick in 2023. Pollination was supplied by 30,000 honey bee hives (both from New Brunswick and imported from elsewhere in Canada), over 5,000 leafcutter bee colonies, and 9,000 bumble bee quads. Overall, excessive rainfall in New Brunswick added additional pest pressure to blueberries and delayed the harvest for 2023.

The Atlantic Tech Transfer Team was pleased to give a workshop on miticide resistance. The workshop covered an overview of past projects done by ATTTA, highlighting the efficacy of various Varroa mite treatments in Atlantic Canada. The presentation also provided insight into the science of how reduced efficacy occurs and what beekeepers can do to prevent it.

The event wrapped up with a panel discussion moderated by the NBBA President, Chris Lockhart. The panel consisted of Dr. Andrew Byers (ATTTA), Roland Michaud (NBBA board member), Boyd Hicks (commercial beekeeper), and Karen Thurlow (Chief Apiary Inspector). The panel discussed some of the implications of climate change on beekeeping, pests and diseases, advantages/disadvantages of technology in beekeeping, and the advantages/disadvantages of running singles versus doubles in an operation.

Thank you to all members of the NB Beekeepers’ Association who helped organize this great event, especially NBBA executives Chris Lockhart and Brian Pond, and to those who work to support the beekeeping industry of New Brunswick.

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