Alberta 2011 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 results along with information from other sources are used in the development of provincial and regional estimates for selected honey variables such as colony numbers, yield, production and prices. 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 2011 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 November 2011, survey questionnaires were mailed out to 539 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 2011.

Participants were made aware that participation in the survey 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 Section 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 2011 Beekeepers’ survey. As of April 5, 2012, a total of 318 questionnaires were received of which 287 were usable and formed the basis for the Alberta 2011 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 Forestry 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 168 producers in Alberta who participated in both the 2010 and 2011 Alberta Beekeepers’ Surveys (See Table 1).

Paired Sample Highlights:

  • In 2011, beekeepers purchased less packages/nucs than in 2010. Purchases decreased approximately four per cent, with the average beekeeper buying 79 packages/nucs, compared to 83 in 2010. The majority of packages/nucs purchased were imported (98 per cent), with the remainder purchased locally.
  • The distribution of imported packages was as follows: New Zealand (80 per cent) and Australia (approximately 20 per cent) and “Other” (less than one per cent). Compared to 2010, imports of packages from New Zealand decreased, while imports from Australia increased.
  • In 2011, beekeepers sourced 44 per cent of their nuc purchases from British Columbia, 42 per cent from other Canadian provinces (such as Saskatchewan and Manitoba) and 15 per cent from Alberta. Imports of nucs from British Columbia and other Canadian were down compared to the previous year, while those from Alberta were up. The 2010 average nuc price in British Columbia was $147.26, in Alberta it was $151.25 and $147.98 for other Canadian provinces.
  • Individual queen purchases increased 13 per cent in 2011, with producers purchasing 254 queens on average, compared to 225 in 2010. Most of the queen purchases were sourced from outside of the province. Hawaii continues to be the primary source of imports, accounting for 67 per cent of the total, while other US States were second with 28 per cent, and New Zealand was third, with slightly over two per cent.
  • Average queen prices in 2011 ranged from $21.43 to $26.67, depending upon the source of purchase. Prices were lowest for queens from other US states at $21.43 per queen, followed by New Zealand at $21.92 per queen, then Hawaii at $22.19 per queen. Prices were the highest for queens from Saskatchewan at $26.67 per queen.
  • In 2011, the percentage deathloss for queens purchased in packages and nucs was six per cent, down 33 per cent from 2010. Average deathloss of individual queens decreased to 5.5 per cent from 5.7 per cent in 2010.
  • On June 30, 2011, there was more honey in inventory than a year earlier. Producers on average had 1,760 pounds in stock, up six per cent from 1,663 pounds in 2010.
  • Alberta continues to be the preferred location for the over-wintering of bees. In 2011, 94 per cent of over-wintering activity occurred in Alberta with rest carried out in British Columbia.
  • "Outdoor" over-wintering is still the favored practice, accounting for 71 per cent of total colonies over-wintered in 2011.
  • 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" it was 11 years.
  • Producer prices received in 2010 for honey were higher than expected for both retail and wholesale. The average price realized for wholesale honey was $152.76 per cwt, $0.26 higher than the expected price of $152.50 per cwt. The realized price for retail honey was $276.55 per cwt, $2.89 higher than the expected price of $273.66 per cwt. The 2011 expected prices for honey are $153.15 per cwt wholesale, and $268.70 per cwt retail.

Honey Production in Alberta
In 2011, there were 798 beekeepers in Alberta, up 3.8 per cent from 2010, and the highest number since 1992 (see tables 3 and 4). For the second consecutive year, colony numbers set a new record at 274,600 colonies, up 3.2 per cent from the 2010 total of 266,000. Preliminary statistics indicate that while Alberta accounts for a relatively small percentage of the nation’s total beekeepers, it had about 43.3 per cent of the honey producing colonies in Canada.

Alberta produced more honey in 2011 than was previously estimated. Final estimates show total production at 34.1 million pounds, compared to the preliminary fall 2011 estimate of 31.8 million pounds. The 2011 production is the fourth highest on record, and represents a 1.5 per cent decrease from 2010. The decline in production was the result of several factors, including a long winter, a rainy spring and increased splitting of colonies. Subsequently, the yield per colony was down 4.6 per cent to 124 pounds, compared to 2010.

Preliminary estimates by Statistics Canada peg total Canadian honey production in 2011 at 78.1 million pounds, compared to 82.1 million pounds a year earlier. Based on the preliminary estimates, Alberta accounts for 40.7 per cent of the nation’s honey production.

Within the province, the North West region produced the highest amount of honey in 2011 (see tables 2 and 4). The region produced 12.3 million pounds of honey, or 36 per cent of the total provincial production of 34.1 million pounds. The Peace region was second with roughly 9.4 million pounds, (or 27.6 per cent), followed by the South with approximately 6.6 million pounds (or 19.3 per cent). The Central region had the lowest production with 2.2 million pounds (or 6.3 per cent), followed by the North East with 3.6 million pounds (or 10.6 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), 29,728 colonies were rented for pollination in 2011, with an average rental charge of $144.23 per colony. For some producers, this was one strategy employed to diversify their incomes.

The Statistics and Data Development Section of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry gratefully acknowledge and thank the many producers who participated in the Alberta 2011 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, Emmanuel Laate, John Paul Emunu, Roy Larsen, Melodie Mynzak, and Medhat Nasr for their contributions to this report.

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

ISSN 1701-3283 (Print) ISSN 1929-7033 (Online)

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 - Current Document
Alberta 2010 Beekeepers' Survey Results
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For more information about the content of this document, contact John Paul Emunu.
This document is maintained by Rita Splawinski.
This information published to the web on July 31, 2012.
Last Reviewed/Revised on November 10, 2017.