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Ontario boosts beekeeping sector

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Beekeepers throughout the province are getting a sweet deal from the government for their honey producing businesses.

The governments of Canada and Ontario are supporting projects that will strengthen the health of managed honey bees and Ontario's beekeeping sector.

Since September of last year, the federal and provincial governments have committed more than $221,000 to support 135 projects.

The province says these projects will help beekeepers better manage pests, diseases and other stressors, while growing bee-related businesses.

When including the project funding that comes from the businesses themselves, the beekeeping sector will receive a joint investment of more than $602,000.

The funding has been provided through a targeted application intake under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

Eligible applications are being received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is available.

Some projects supported through this targeted intake include:

  • Equipment to help managed honey bees survive over the winter months
  • Projects to detect and manage pests such as varroa mites
  • Technology to enhance production
  • Equipment to prepare operations for managing Small Hive Beetle
  • Market and customer research to help increase sales.

“Many of our agricultural crops depend on the health and productivity of our pollinators, and this regional approach to strengthening Ontario's honey bee populations plays a vital role in allowing our high-value crops to succeed,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food.

Ontario-managed honey bees pollinate a wide range of crops in addition to honey, including apples, apricots, asparagus, blueberries, squash and canola.

Managed honey bees pollinate 80 per cent of all agricultural crops requiring insect pollination. They account for $395 million in pollination services to Ontario farmers and contribute $30 million a year in honey sales.

“Honey bees play an essential role in Ontario's agricultural sector and in maintaining healthy ecosystems,” said the Honourable Ernie Hardeman, Ontario minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs.

“That's why it's so important to support and sustain the health of our honey bees,” he added.

“This investment has helped over 135 beekeepers so far to equip themselves with better tools to prevent diseases, improve winter survival, adopt best management practices and grow their businesses.”

Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed cost-share support to approximately 2,500 projects through the Partnership to help eligible Ontario farmers, processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.

Examples of projects supported through the partnership include:

  • implementation of technology to enhance food safety in processing

plants;

  • improving adoption of cover crop management to help reduce phosphorous

entering the Lake Erie watershed;

  • installation of equipment to improve biosecurity;
  • technology solutions to improve labour productivity; and
  • marketing plans to help businesses to expand their markets.

The targeted application intake to support managed bee health opened on Sept. 3, 2019.

Eligible applications are being received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is still available.

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