Overwintering losses will be in the 35 to 40 per cent range, according to the president of the Saskatchewan Beekeepers Development Commission.
Simon Lalonde from Clavet says a lengthy cold snap in March and April was responsible for losses, which are about double normal levels.
Beekeepers may bring in a few more queens to start new colonies, but Lalonde is not anticipating major purchases of packaged bees from Australia or New Zealand.
Lalonde says the winter losses will impact 2018 honey production.
“It’s tough to say right now. We’ve really only been into the bees for about a month. Bees are pretty amazing little creatures. If they get perfect weather, they can turn things around not too bad. Honey production in Saskatchewan will probably be down 20 to 30 percent.”
Lalonde says a lower bee population will have a small impact on canola yields in some areas.
“Bees can increase canola yields by up to 8 to 10 percent in perfect conditions, if there are enough hives. Farmers will generally see a standard increase of 3 to 4 percent. There will be a few less bees around, but probably not enough for a canola producer to see an actual difference (in yield).”
Saskatchewan produces about 19 million pounds of honey annually, ranking only behind Alberta.