Nova Scotia blueberry industry needs Ontario bees, says minister.

Nova Scotia's minister of agriculture says new measures to import bees from Ontario are a necessary compromise to balance the needs of the blueberry and bee industries, but some beekeepers say it's a risk that could hurt their livelihood.

This spring, about 5,000 beehives from Ontario will be imported into Cumberland County to help pollinate blueberry crops. As well, the province says it will send a team of beekeepers and people from the wild blueberry industry to Ontario first to examine the colonies before they're shipped.

"Without the proper pollination, it would substantially reduce the yield in the blueberry fields, which would be a huge economic impact on the province," said Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell, adding this year the province is only importing half as many bees as last year.

"We're not really prioritizing one over the other. There's a need to satisfy demand in the industry, the blueberry industry, that the bee industry can't satisfy."

The Nova Scotia Beekeepers Association had asked Colwell to ban importing bees due to the small hive beetle, which has established itself in Ontario.

The pest burrows in hives and lays eggs. Its excrements can ferment honey if it isn't immediately harvested.

The province says inspectors will open up every hive before its shipped to try to spot the small hive beetle and they'll examine lower sections of about 10 per cent of the hives. Hives will be inspected again when they arrive in Nova Scotia.

"We anticipate with this inspection process, it's a pretty rigid one we're doing, that there would be no, almost zero chance of [the beetle] coming into the province," said Colwell.