Chilly July meant Manitoba’s bees weren’t as busy as usual

Four weeks of unseasonably cold weather has taken a toll on the province’s beekeepers.

“We had a slow start to begin with, so it’s actually double slow,” said provincial apiarist Rhéal Lafrenière.

Many beekeepers didn’t make their first extraction of honey until July 23 or 24 — two weeks later than normal — only to discover their bees haven’t been as busy as usual.

Preliminary numbers put the first extraction at about 70 pounds per hive, well below the normal average of 90 pounds, he said.

But there is some hope, as late-seeded canola in the west of the province may allow bees to forage successfully in the last weeks of August if the weather is good.

“If we get a lot of good flying days, warm, not raining during the day although a little bit of evening showers is always good… we still have potential in those areas,” Lafrenière said.

“We really need a good August yet to make a crop, right now it’s kinda looking like it will be below average,” added Allan Campbell, president of the Manitoba Beekeepers Association.

“But definitely any idea of a big crop is kind of gone by now.”

There was not as much late seeding in the east of the province, making a late upswing in those regions less likely. Current varieties of canola usually finish flowering in the second week of August.

A reduction in the number of hives following severe winter losses will also reduce the amount of honey produced in the province this year, Campbell added.

About the author

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Shannon VanRaes is a journalist and photojournalist at the Manitoba Co-operator. She also writes a weekly urban affairs column for Metro Winnipeg, and has previously reported for the Winnipeg Sun, Outwords Magazine and the Portage Daily Graphic.

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