Alberta 2010 Beekeepers' Survey Results

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 Purpose of survey | Methodology | Highlights of the Alberta 2008/2009 paired beekeeping surveys | Honey production in Alberta | Acknowledgments

Purpose of Survey

To address some of the data gaps and information needs of the beekeeping industry in Alberta, each year the Statistics and Data Development (SADD) Section conducts a survey of beekeepers in the province. The survey is used to assist in the development of provincial and regional estimates for selected honey variables such as colony numbers, yield, production and prices. The survey information along with information from other sources, are then used to estimate the provincial and regional honey statistics. Furthermore, these estimates, along with the survey results, are shared with survey participants, industry and other stakeholders.

This report focuses on the results of the Alberta 2010 Beekeepers’ Survey and the related estimates generated.


The Alberta Beekeepers’ Survey, which is provincial in scope, collects data from producers through a non-probability survey. In December 2010, survey questionnaires were mailed out to 756 beekeepers across the province. The questionnaire specifically asked survey participants to provide, at their earliest convenience, information on colony numbers, production, yield, bee purchases, prices (expected/actual), carry-over stocks and selected management practices, for their related beekeeping operation in 2010.

Participants were made aware that participation was voluntary. They were also assured that all individual responses would be kept confidential under both the Statistics Act of Canada, and the Alberta Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Act, by which the SADD Branch is governed and operates. In return for their participation, respondents who were interested in the survey results were mailed the Branch’s publication highlighting the results of the 2010 Beekeepers’ survey. As of June 7, 2011, a total of 409 questionnaires were received of which 284 were usable and formed the basis for the Alberta 2010 honey production estimates.

Survey responses received were reviewed for data completeness, validated and entered into an electronic database. The data was then subjected to some computerized analyses, the results of which were rolled up into group summaries, to preserve the confidentiality of data provided by individual respondents. In turn, the group summaries, in conjunction with input from industry and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) staff and provincial apiculturist, were used to develop provincial and regional estimates on the number of producers, colonies, yield and production.

Just to note, the derived estimates could be subject to error. Some of the possible causes of error include data coding, data entry, editing and tabulation. Nonetheless, we believe that the statistics published in this report are reliable estimates for Alberta.

For further information regarding the survey or survey results, please do not hesitate to contact:

John Paul Emunu
Livestock Statistician
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
Economics and Competitiveness Branch
Statistics and Data Development Section
#300, 7000 -113 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T6H 5T6
Phone: 780-427-4243
Fax: 780-427-5220

Highlights of the Alberta 2009/2010 Paired Beekeeping Surveys

The following survey highlights are based on the responses of 163 producers in Alberta who participated in both the 2009 and 2010 Alberta Beekeepers’ Surveys (See Table 1).

Paired sample highlights:
In 2010, beekeepers purchased less queen packages/nucs than in 2009. Purchases decreased approximately seven per cent, with the average beekeeper buying 102 packages/nucs, compared to 109 in 2010. The majority of packages/nucs purchased were imported (93 per cent), with the remainder purchased locally.

The distribution of imported packages was as follows: New Zealand (89 per cent), Australia (five per cent) and “Other” (six per cent). Compared to 2009, imports of packages from New Zealand increased, while imports from Australia declined.

In 2010, beekeepers sourced 42 per cent of their nuc purchases from British Columbia, 40 per cent from other Canadian provinces and 18 per cent from Alberta. Imports of nucs from British Columbia and Alberta were down compared to the previous year, while those from other Canadian provinces were up. The 2010 average nuc price in British Columbia was $132.10, in Alberta it was $148.39 and $142.47 for other Canadian provinces.

Individual queen purchases increased seven per cent in 2010, with producers purchasing 213 queens on average, compared to 200 in 2009. Most of the queen purchases were sourced from outside of the province. Hawaii continues to be the primary source of imports, accounting for 91 per cent of the total, while other US States were second with five per cent, and British Columbia third, with slightly over one per cent.

Average queen prices in 2010 ranged from $19.80 to $26.00, depending upon the source of purchase. Prices were lowest for Chilean queens at $19.80 per queen, followed by Hawaii at $20.49, then other US states at $21.08 per queen. Prices were the highest for queens from British Columbia at $26.00 per queen.

In 2010, the percentage deathloss for queens purchased in packages and nucs was eight per cent, down 68 per cent from 2009. Average deathloss of individual queens increased to 28 per cent, from 25 per cent in 2009.

On June 30, 2010, there was less honey in inventory than a year earlier. Producers on average had 1,876 pounds in stock, down 70 per cent from 6,180 pounds in 2009.

Alberta continues to be the preferred location for the over-wintering of bees. In 2010, 98 per cent of over-wintering activity occurred in Alberta with only two per cent carried out in British Columbia.

“Outdoor” over-wintering is still the favored practice, accounting for 72 per cent of total colonies over-wintered in 2010.

The average beekeeper had about 17 years of beekeeping experience. Years of experience in over-wintering “outdoor” was lower at 14 years, while for “indoor” colonies, the years of experience was 17 years.

Producer prices received in 2009 for honey were higher than expected for retail and lower than expected for wholesale. The average price realized for wholesale honey was $155.70 per cwt, $0.64 lower than the expected price of $156.34 per cwt. The realized price for retail honey was $268.44 per cwt, $8.60 higher than the expected price of $259.84 per cwt. The 2010 expected prices for honey are $152.50 per cwt wholesale, and $273.66 per cwt retail.

Honey Production in Alberta

In 2010, there were 769 beekeepers in Alberta, up 12.6 per cent from 2009, and the highest number since 1992 (see tables 3 and 4). Colony numbers reached a record 266,000, and was up six per cent from the 2009 total of 251,000. Preliminary statistics indicate that while Alberta accounts for a relatively small percentage of the nation’s total beekeepers, it had about 43 per cent of the honey producing colonies in Canada.

Alberta produced more honey in 2010 than was previously estimated. Final estimates show total production at 34.6 million pounds, compared to the preliminary fall 2010 estimate of 28.0 million pounds. The 2010 production is the third highest on record, and represents a 19 per cent increase from 2009. The high production was mainly due to the rise in the number of colonies and yield per colony. The yield per colony was up 12 per cent to 130 pounds, compared to 2009. Other factors that affect honey production include weather, nectar availability and the presence of disease or mites.

Preliminary estimates by Statistics Canada peg total Canadian honey production in 2010 at 74.3 million pounds, compared to 70.4 million pounds a year earlier. Based on the preliminary estimates, Alberta accounts for 38 per cent of the nation’s honey production.

Within the province, the North West region produced the highest amount of honey in 2010 (see tables 2 and 4). The region produced 11.2 million pounds of honey, or 33 per cent of the total provincial production of 34.6 million pounds. The Peace region was second with roughly 9.6 million pounds, (or 28 per cent), followed by the South with approximately 6.7 million pounds (or 20 per cent). The Central region had the lowest production with 2.7 million pounds (or eight per cent), followed by the North East with 4.3 million pounds (or 13 per cent). It cannot be over emphasized that estimated honey production on a regional basis is directly tied to colony numbers and yield, hence, explaining the variation among regions. Beekeepers from various regions tend to move their bees from honey producing locations to Southern Alberta for Hybrid canola seed production. Thus, the honey yield of these colonies is reduced due to the high density of colonies per acre when used for pollination.

Just to note, the Alberta Beekeepers’ Survey included some questions regarding the pollination of crops. Based upon the survey results (which did not include all beekeepers involved in pollination activities), 29,549 colonies were rented for pollination in 2010, with an average rental charge of $149.55 per colony. For some producers, this was one strategy employed to diversify their incomes.


The Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Economics and Competitiveness Branch, Statistics and Data Development Section gratefully acknowledge and thank the many producers who participated in the Alberta 2010 Beekeepers’ survey. Without their participation, this report would not have been possible.

As well, the Branch wishes to acknowledge several staff members of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, including Reynold Jaipaul, Gail Atkinson, Guangzhi Liu, Nabi Chaudhary, John Paul Emunu, Roy Larsen, Melodie Mynzak, and Medhat Nasr for their contributions to this report.

This report is also available on the Internet at:$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/sdd12589

To obtain additional copies, please contact:

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
Economics and Competitiveness Branch
Statistics and Data Development Section
#302, 7000 -113 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T6H 5T6
Phone: 780-427-4243
Fax: 780-427-5220

For a complete copy of the report with the tables, please download the attached pdf file.


Other Documents in the Series

  Alberta 2017 Beekeepers' Survey Results
Alberta Beekeepers Survey Results
Alberta 2016 Beekeepers' Survey Results
Alberta 2015 Beekeepers' Survey Results
Alberta 2014 Beekeepers' Survey Results
Alberta 2013 Beekeepers' Survey Results
Alberta 2012 Beekeepers' Survey Results
Alberta 2011 Beekeepers' Survey Results
Alberta 2010 Beekeepers' Survey Results - Current Document
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This document is maintained by Rita Splawinski.
This information published to the web on October 5, 2011.
Last Reviewed/Revised on November 22, 2017.