With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading fast world-wide, the Alberta Beekeepers Commission (ABC) would like to extend our thoughts to all of those who have been impacted by this virus. At this time, we want to reassure Eligible Producers that the ABC is continuing to provide support to producers as we work through the immediate issues impacting producers during this unprecedented situation.
To ensure the impact to the beekeeping industry is being heard, we are encouraging beekeepers to write to their MLA and MP to advise them of this catastrophic impact on bee health and the health of producers and the agriculture industry as a whole if this exemption is not put in place.
To that end, we are providing examples of letters written by the board for you to use as a starting place. We have also included a list of MLAs and MPs, as well as email contact information for the Prime Minister, Federal Minister of Agriculture and the Minister for Employment and Social Development Canada. Sample letters and contact information can be downloaded below:
For the beekeeping sector, about 5% of the 1500 or so temporary foreign workers under all applicable programs have arrived in Canada. If no more were to allowed to enter, the effect would be devasting, particularly for western Canadian beekeepers. Over 500,000 colonies are managed in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba pollinating canola, blueberries, raspberries, tree fruits, sunflowers, and a host of other crops and flowers. In the spring, labour is needed to feed, treat, manage and move colonies. For the most part, foreign labourers are experienced and come back year after year. If that labour force is not available quickly this spring, (that meaning within the next month) bee loss numbers will be crippling and recovery may never occur. Beekeepers will not have the capacity to make splits, re-queen, or treat hives properly maintaining bee populations and losses exceeding 30-40% of the livestock would be expected.
Beekeepers recognize the public health crisis and have the capacity and willingness to do whatever is necessary to ensure the health and safety of Canadians. Screening, testing, isolation and quarantines can be dealt with in co-operation with public health authorities. The rural setting in which most beekeepers reside allows this to be a practical solution. For the purposes of ESDC, if the border remains closed for any extended period of time, the ability to be able to move those workers who are already here around to other apiaries may alleviate a very small portion of the problem.
A survey was emailed to all Eligible Producers belonging to the Alberta Beekeepers Commission in late August/early September 2019, regarding:
66 or 37% of all Eligible Producers responded. Click here to view the summary of the results.