The Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists (CAPA) coordinated the annual honey bee wintering loss report for 2017-2018. As in previous years, harmonized questions based on the national beekeeping industry were used. Provincial Apiarists collected the survey data. All provinces were included in the national survey this year. The respondents operated 502,764 honey bee colonies across Canada. This represents 63.9% of all colonies operated and wintered in the country in 2017-2018. The national winter loss, including non-viable bee colonies was 32.6% with provincial losses ranging from 18.4% to 45.7%. The overall national colony loss reported in 2018 is the highest reported loss since 2009. Through the hard work of beekeepers replacing loses and making increases, Statistics Canada reports show that the total colony count has increased by 34.1% during the period between 2007 and 2017.
Respondents reported some variation in identifying and ranking the top four possible causes of colony losses across the country. The most frequently cited causes in order from high to low were: weather, poor queens, weak colonies in the fall and starvation.
Beekeepers also responded to questions on the management of three serious parasites and pathogens to beekeeping: Varroa mites, nosema and American foulbrood. The majority of beekeepers in most provinces reported that they monitored for Varroa mites. The most commonly reported Varroa treatments were Apivar® in spring, Apivar® or formic acid (Mite Away Quick Strip® (MAQS), repeated 40 ml of 65% formic acid treatments, or flash treatments) in the summer or fall and oxalic acid in late fall. Many beekeepers reported using spring and fall applications of Apivar® or Apivar® plus formic acid to keep mites under control in 2017. Nosemosis and American foulbrood were treated by many Canadian beekeepers. Across the country commonly used treatments were registered antibiotics; but methods and timing of application varied from province to province.
Provincial Apiculturists, Tech-transfer agents and researchers have been working with beekeepers across Canada to encourage them to monitor honey bee pests, especially Varroa mites and nosema, and adopt proven integrated pest management practices to keep these pests under control. Through various working groups within the association and with various stakeholders CAPA members continue to work on development and improving management options for beekeepers to keep healthy bees. CAPA members are also actively involved in the Federal Bee Health Roundtable to develop strategies that work toward addressing risks and opportunities for developing sustainable industry.