Congratulations to Newfoundland for establishing their first beekeeper association

The group held its inaugural meeting in Corner Brook Thursday evening and hopes to grow into an advocate for the importance of bees in the environmental big picture.

The global concern about bees is that they are declining and having lowered populations of bees can be a detriment to food production. Honey bees are one of the key players in the pollination of many food crops.

Their decline, including in managed bee colonies, is being attributed to a number of factors, including disease and pesticide use.

Fortunately, the honey bees on the island of Newfoundland are relatively disease-free, especially from the Varroa mite that is decimating populations elsewhere. The new association — made up of commercial and hobbyist beekeepers and academics — hopes to help keep it that way.

Barry Hicks, an entomologist originally from Corner Brook who now teaches biology at College of the North Atlantic’s Carbonear campus, was a member of the steering committee that helped launch the association.  He said there are around 50 beekeepers in Newfoundland and Labrador, most of them doing just as a hobby.

Whether a hobbyist or a commercial one interested in pollination services and honey production, beekeepers are interested in letting the world know the province is a reliable source of clean queen bees.

“This is a tremendous resource we haven’t realized and it’s something we’re hoping to promote with help from government,” said Hicks, adding the exportation of clean bees is a niche market is there for the taking.

The province already has importation restrictions on honeybees, he noted, and continued monitoring of the province’s honey bee population will be crucial.

The first objectives of the association will be to get incorporated and to start educating beekeepers, the general public and government about effective beekeeping practices to ensure the population’s health.

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