OTTAWA - Dec 17/20 - SNS -- Canadian honey producers harvested 82.9 million pounds of honey in 2020, reports Statistics Canada, down 4.3% from a year earlier.
The federal agency said some beekeepers were unable to procure queen bees because of import and travel restrictions during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, the total value of honey sold rose 14.9% to $208.8 million as the drop in supply pushed prices higher.
COVID-19 restrictions on imports and transportation contributed to the 5.6% decline in healthy colonies to 746,612 in 2020, the lowest number of colonies since 2016. Under normal circumstances, queen bees are flown in via commercial fights due to temperature requirements to keep the bees alive. The disruptions in commercial flights reduced the supply of queens and package bees, which prevented some beekeepers from restoring their colonies following high winter losses, especially in Alberta.
Alberta beekeepers account for over one-third of honey production in Canada
Honey producers in Alberta, the largest honey-producing province, had 9.5% less producing colonies in 2020 from a year earlier, partially due to poor spring and early summer conditions, as well as high winter losses. Production fell 4.8% from a year earlier to 29.9 million pounds in 2020. Producers in Alberta received an average of $2.13 per pound for their honey, up from $1.85 per pound a year earlier. With less honey on the market, the value of Alberta honey rose 9.5% to $63.7 million.
There were 11,785 beekeepers in 2020, up 1,262 from a year earlier and almost two-thirds higher compared with a decade earlier. Increasing public awareness and concern for the environment, coupled with the emerging interest in urban beekeeping, directed some of this growth.
Honey exports were down by over one-quarter (-28.2%) during the first three quarters of 2020, to 14.0 million pounds. Sales from honey exports fell 21.8% over that period to $31.1 million.
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