Alberta 2012 Beekeepers' Survey Results

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 Purpose of survey | Methodology | Highlights of the Alberta 2011/2012 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 2012 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 2012, survey questionnaires were mailed out to 622 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 2012.

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 2012 Beekeepers’ survey. As of October 11, 2013, a total of 347 questionnaires were received, of which 329 were usable and formed the basis in developing the Alberta 2012 honey production estimates.

Survey responses received were reviewed for data completeness, validated and entered into an electronic database. The data was then subjected to 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, the provincial apiculturist and other Alberta Agriculture and Forestry staff, were used to develop provincial and regional estimates on the number of producers, colonies, yield and production.

It should be noted that 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.

Highlights of the Alberta 2011/2012 Paired Beekeeping Surveys

The following survey highlights are based on the responses of 168 producers in Alberta who participated in both the 2011 and 2012 Alberta Beekeepers’ Surveys.

Paired sample highlights:
  • In 2012, beekeepers purchased less packages/nucs than in 2011. Purchases decreased 44.2 per cent, with the average beekeeper buying 31.3 packages/nucs, compared to 56.1 in 2011. The majority of packages/nucs purchased in 2012 were imported (96.1 per cent), with the remainder purchased locally.
  • The distribution of imported packages was as follows: New Zealand (88.9 per cent) and Australia (11.1 per cent) and “Other” (less than one per cent). Compared to 2011, imports of packages from New Zealand increased, while Australia showed a decline.
  • In 2012, beekeepers sourced 64.4 per cent of their nuc purchases from Alberta, 20.7 per cent from British Columbia and 14.8 per cent from other Canadian Provinces (mostly Saskatchewan). Imports of nucs from other Canadian Provinces were up compared to the previous year, while those from British Columbia were down. The 2012 average nuc price in British Columbia was $147.68, while in Alberta it was $148.97, and $138.50 for other Canadian provinces.
  • Individual queen purchases decreased 11.1 per cent in 2012, with producers purchasing 211 queens on average, compared to 237 in 2011. Most of the queen purchases were sourced from outside of the province. Hawaii continues to be the primary source of imports, accounting for 65.3 per cent of the total, while other US States were second with 25.3 per cent and Australia third, with 6.0 per cent.
  • Average queen prices in 2012 ranged from $20.00 to $24.96, depending upon the source of purchase. Prices were lowest in Saskatchewan at $20.00 per queen, followed by Australia at $21.02 per queen, then British Columbia and other US States at $21.25, respectively. New Zealand had the highest price at $24.96 per queen.
  • In 2012, the percentage deathloss for queens purchased in packages and nucs dropped to 13.4 per cent, from 20.4 per cent in 2011. For individual queens, the comparable percentage was also down, falling 6.0 per cent, from 6.7 per cent in 2011.
  • On June 30, 2012, there was less honey in inventory than a year earlier. Producers on average had 1,112 pounds in stock, down 53.3 per cent from 2,380 pounds in 2011.
  • Alberta continues to be the preferred location for the over-wintering of bees. In 2012, 97.1 per cent of over-wintering activity occurred in Alberta, with the rest carried out in British Columbia.
  • “Outdoor” over-wintering is still the favored practice, accounting for 83.8 per cent of the total colonies over-wintered in 2012.
  • In 2012, the average beekeeper reported 15.9 years of beekeeping experience. Years of experience in over-wintering “outdoor” was lower at 13.9 years, while for “indoor” it was 12.9 years.
  • Producer prices received in 2011 for honey were higher than expected for both retail and wholesale. The average price realized for wholesale honey was $153.95 per cwt, $0.80 higher than the expected price of $153.15 per cwt. The average realized price for retail honey was $276.64 per cwt, $7.94 higher than the expected price of $268.70 per cwt. The 2012 expected prices for honey are $164.10 per cwt wholesale, and $350.92 per cwt retail.
Honey Production in Alberta

In 2012, there were 883 beekeepers in Alberta, up 10.7 per cent from 2011 (see tables 3 and 4), and the highest number since 1988. For the third consecutive year, colony numbers were at record highs reaching 278,400 colonies in 2012 and up 1.4 per cent from the 2011 total of 274,600. Preliminary statistics indicate that while Alberta accounts for a relatively small percentage (9.8 per cent) of the nation’s total beekeepers (8,126), it had 39.9 per cent of the honey producing colonies in Canada.

Alberta produced less honey in 2012 than was previously forecasted. Final estimates show total production at 38.0 million pounds, compared to the preliminary fall 2012 forecast of 40.5 million pounds. Even so, the 2012 production is the third highest on record, and up 11.6 per cent over 2011. The rise in production was driven by an increase in colony numbers and higher yield per colony. The average yield per colony was up 9.7 per cent to 136 pounds, compared to 2011.

Preliminary estimates by Statistics Canada peg total Canadian honey production in 2012 at 90.9 million pounds, compared to 79.8 million pounds in 2011. Based on the preliminary estimates, Alberta accounted for 44.6 per cent of the nation’s honey production.

In 2012, honey production was up across all the regions of Alberta except in the North West. At 10.3 million pounds, the Peace region produced the highest amount of honey, and accounted for 27.2 per cent the total provincial production of 38.0 million pounds (see tables 2 and 4). The North West was second with 10.2 million pounds, (or 26.9 per cent), followed by the South with 10.0 million pounds (or 26.4 per cent). The Central region had the lowest production with 3.71 million pounds (or 9.8 per cent), then the North East with 3.74 million pounds (or 9.9 per cent). It cannot be over emphasized that the estimated honey production on a regional basis is directly tied to colony numbers and yield per colony, hence, explaining the variation among regions.

The Alberta Beekeepers’ Survey also included questions regarding the pollination of crops. Based upon the survey results (and which did not include all beekeepers involved in pollination activities), 18,046 colonies were rented for pollination in 2012, with an average rental charge of $163.33 per colony.


The Statistics and Data Development Section of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry gratefully acknowledge and thank the many producers who participated in the Alberta 2012 Beekeepers’ survey. Without their participation, this report would not have been possible.

As well, the Section 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
#300, 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 - Current Document
Alberta 2011 Beekeepers' Survey Results
Alberta 2010 Beekeepers' Survey Results
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This document is maintained by Rita Splawinski.
This information published to the web on December 5, 2013.
Last Reviewed/Revised on December 13, 2017.