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Bees helping out district crops

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Area canola farmers may see a boost in yields this season thanks to the millions of extra pollinators now occupying bee boxes in some fields in the west end of the district.

“They are there to pollinate crops and produce honey,” said Brian Rowaan, the commercial beekeeper who brought the bees here.

“The bees are European Honey Bees-your standard, generic honey bee,” he assured.

Rowaan lives in Noelville, near Sudbury, and told the Times he takes hives to different farms in Ontario to help with his honey production.

This is a common practice for beekeepers looking to increase the amount of honey they harvest while also raising crop yields for farmers with extra pollinators.

For the most part, Rowaan keeps those hives near the French River and the West Nipissing area, closer to his home.

“I've been looking at Rainy River as a possible location and I heard there was a young guy there with big canola acres,” noted Rowaan, referring to local producer Timo Brielmann.

According to Rowaan, canola produces very high amounts of nectar-perfect for bees making a lot of honey.

“Gary Sliworsky [the local OMAFRA agent] called and said there was a guy who wanted to bring some bees up,” recalled Brielmann, who has about 750 acres of canola growing this year.

“There are so many of them flying all over the fields and pollinating now-it's amazing,” he added.

“They just spread and pollinate and help with that cycle, and hopefully I get more yield.”

Rowaan said he had been looking at the Rainy River area for about five years before he finally decided to make the trip.

He trucked here with his bees near the end of June and placed hives on the edges of some fields near Stratton owned by Brielmann Ag and Colin Romyn.

“We have about 10,000 hives in Ontario, with 752 hives in the Rainy River District,” Rowaan said.

He added the 752 hives translates to roughly 45 million honey bees for the area, which will stay here until about the middle of August depending on the weather.

Then Rowaan will drive up to collect the bees and take them back to Noelville to process the honey.

“It's mutually beneficial because it increases pollination, so guys will get better yields and we get to collect the honey,” he explained.

Rowaan noted he's not part of a big honey-producing corporation (he runs his own business with his wife and children). But he still has had smaller beekeepers angry with him for bringing his bees to different areas.

But he said there's one beekeeper in Rainy River District who has been very kind to him already.

He added that overall, farmers often have been pretty generous in letting him use the land for his honey bees as they benefit canola and other crops, as well as flowers, berries, and fruit trees in the area.

For anyone interested in hosting some bees, Rowaan said he can be e-mailed at brian@honeyfields.org as he hopes to continue bringing bees to this area for future growing seasons.

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