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Bees Still Busy

have facilitated greater honey production.

The die-offs didn t seem to hold back overall production this year, Lafreniere noted. This year because of the way the canola bloomed at different times, many people have had three and in some cases four rounds.

He added that last year s honey production fell at the low end of the normal spectrum, around 165 lbs. per hive. Lafreniere expects this year s yield to be above average, although it s still too early to say by how much.

John Russell , vice-president of the Red River Apiary Association, agrees this year has been above average for yield.

But he stresses the importance of leaving some of that honey for the bees to ensure a strong colony going into the winter.

There is the urge to go after that last pound (of honey), but you don t want them eating their winter food in the fall, Russell noted, adding many producers give their bees corn syrup or fructose-based food in the winter to allow for maximum honey collection.

Another component of maintaining healthy hives is controlling for mites, particularly the varroa mite, which is known to transmit viruses.

Spring is not the time to be thinking of winter die-offs and colony health, if you have high expectations for spring, it should be your priority in the fall, said Russell. He added that unlike days past, where bees would be killed come fall to allow for honey collecting, beekeeping is now a management-intensive field.

As the last of this year s honey is collected, Russell notes honey prices are expected to rise, but said it s still too early to know exactly what prices the market will bring producers. shannon. [email protected]

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RHEAL LAFRENIERE

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