A thriving industry! Canada has over 8,400 beekeepers, with a total of more than 672,000 colonies. The beekeeping industry in Canada is vibrant and flourishing, with 9% increase in total colonies in 2013 compared to the average of the previous five years. The majority of honey bee colonies are in the Prairies, where long summer days are ideal for foraging; Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba collectively accounted for 84% of the country’s total honey production. In total, Canadian honeybee colonies yielded more than 75 million pounds of honey. The total value of honey produced in Canada totals over $176 million.

Provinces

Number of beekeepers

Number of colonies

Honey Production
(x1000 kg)

Prince Edward Island

45

4 432

80

Nova Scotia

265

19 500

225

New Brunswick

244

4 318

94

Quebec

310

50 000

1 500

Ontario

3 150

97 500

2 886

Manitoba

531

73 800

5 657

Saskatchewan

715

100 000

8 255

Alberta

900

280 000

14 606

British Columbia

2 323

42 544

938

Canada

8 483

672 094

34 241

Source: Statistics Canada (CANSIM Table 001-0007)
Note 1: Beekeeper numbers may include pollinators that may not extract honey.
Note 2: Newfoundland and Labrador is excluded since the province has no honey production to report.

Overview

The number of beekeepers in Canada is on the rise! From 2009 to 2015, there has been a steady increase in the number of beekeepers. Nova Scotia saw the largest increase in the number of beekeepers in 2013, up 16%. Ontario continues to have the largest number of beekeepers, with 3,150 of the 8,483 operating in Canada. Alberta remains the province with the largest number of colonies, at over 280,000.

Canada is a net exporter of honey. The United States is the largest export destination for Canadian honey, accounting for 77% of all honey exports. Japan and China are the second and third largest export destinations respectively.

The East and West

6 provinces have 70% of Canada’s beekeepers. Commercial beekeepers in Eastern and BC beekeepers operate small to medium size operations of 50-5,000 colonies with average 600 colonies for the commercial beekeeper.

The Prairies

The prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are the major honey producers in Canada. Approximately 475,000 colonies are located in the Prairie Provinces and they produce 80% of Canada’s crop. Commercial prairie beekeepers maintain 500 – 25,000 colonies per beekeeper. Pollination of hybrid canola is important in Alberta where 75,000 colonies are required for seed production.

Canada ranks 1st in the world for canola / oil seed rape production

Pollination of canola is a major activity for the Canadian honey bee industry. Each year around 300,000 colonies of honey bees (half the colonies in Canada) contribute to the annual crop of 12.6 million tonnes of open pollinated canola oil seed. As well, another 75,000 colonies (approximately 12% of the colonies in Canada) are dedicated to pollinating the highly specialized hybrid seed canola industry. This hybrid seed industry is dependent on honey bees for precise pollen transfer of specific genetic lines.

Canada ranks 2nd in the world for blueberry production

North American produces 75% of the world’s blueberries, and Canadian Beekeepers provide around 35,000 colonies of honey bees for blueberry pollination.

Canada is 16th in the world for apple production

Beekeepers supply around 15,000 colonies for the pollination of tree fruit.

Prairie Provinces have four months of honey production (May-August). Quebec and northern NB also have a short season (mid-May –through mid-Sept). The active season in other regions is April- October, longer in Coastal British Columbia.

A high percentage of Quebec colonies are wintered indoors. This method of overwintering has gained some popularity in the Prairies and Northern British Columbia. Everywhere else the majority of colonies are wintered outdoors using varieties of insulated wrapping material. Different methods of management allow beekeepers to overwinter bees in 1, 2 or 3 brood chambers.