Alberta 2013 Beekeepers' Survey Results

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Purpose of survey | Methodology | Highlights of the Alberta 2012/2013 paired beekeeping surveys | Honey production in Alberta | Acknowledgements

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 2013 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 January 2014, survey questionnaires were mailed out to 529 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 2013.

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 2013 Beekeepers’ survey. As of August 11, 2014, a total of 315 questionnaires were received, of which 299 were usable and formed the basis in developing the Alberta 2013 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 2012/2013 Paired Beekeeping Surveys

The following survey highlights are based on the responses of 187 producers who participated in both the 2012 and 2013 Alberta Beekeepers’ Surveys (See Table 1).

Paired Sample Highlights:
  • In 2013, beekeepers purchased more packages/nucs than in 2012. Purchases increased 19.1 per cent, with the average beekeeper buying 85.0 packages/nucs, compared to 71.4 in 2012. The majority of packages/nucs purchased in 2013 were imported (97.9 per cent), with the remainder purchased locally.
  • The distribution of imported packages was as follows: New Zealand (93.6 per cent) and Australia (6.5 per cent). Compared to 2012, imports of packages from New Zealand were down, while imports from Australia were up.
  • In 2013, beekeepers sourced 79.0 per cent of their nuc purchases from British Columbia, 20.7 per cent from Alberta and under one per cent from other Canadian Provinces (mostly Saskatchewan). The number of nucs purchased in Alberta decreased compared to the previous year, while purchases from British Columbia increased. The 2013 average nuc price in British Columbia was $136.31, while in Alberta it was $147.86, and $150.00 for other Canadian provinces.
  • Individual queen purchases increased 4.0 per cent in 2013, with producers purchasing 301.06 queens on average, compared to 289.60 in 2012. Most of the queen purchases were sourced from outside of the province. Hawaii continues to be the primary source of imports, accounting for 69.3 per cent of the total, while other US States were second with 24.9 per cent and Chile third, with 2.5 per cent.
  • Average queen prices in 2013 ranged from $22.86 to $32.01, depending upon the source of purchase. Prices were lowest for New Zealand at $22.86 per queen, followed by Chile at $23.86 per queen, then Hawaii at $24.02 and other US States at $24.09, respectively. Saskatchewan had the highest price at $32.01 per queen.
  • In 2013, the percentage deathloss for queens purchased in packages and nucs rose to 5.5 per cent, from 4.2 per cent in 2012. For individual queens, the comparable percentage was also up, growing 7.9 per cent, from 3.5 per cent in 2012.
  • On June 30, 2013, there was more honey in inventory than a year earlier. Producers on average had 9,731 pounds in stock, up more than two fold from 3,011 pounds in 2012.
  • Alberta continues to be the preferred location for the over-wintering of bees. In 2013, 95.5 per cent of over-wintering activity (indoor/outdoor) occurred in Alberta, with the rest carried out in British Columbia.
  • “Outdoor” over-wintering is still the favored practice, accounting for 76.8 per cent of the total colonies over-wintered in 2013.
  • In 2013, the average beekeeper reported 15.7 years of beekeeping experience. Years of experience in over-wintering “outdoor” was lower at 13.2 years, while for “indoor” it was 15.5 years.
  • Producer prices received in 2012 for honey were slightly lower than expected for both retail and wholesale. The average price realized for wholesale honey was $164.07 per cwt, $0.03 lower than the expected price of $164.10 per cwt. The average realized price for retail honey was $337.59 per cwt, $13.33 lower than the expected price of $350.92 per cwt. The 2013 expected prices for honey are $206.23 per cwt wholesale, and $373.54 per cwt retail.
Honey Production in Alberta

In 2013, there were 890 beekeepers in Alberta, up marginally by 0.8 per cent from 2012 (see tables 3 and 4), and the highest number since 1988. Following three consecutive years of record highs, the total number of colonies remained almost unchanged at 278,100, down slightly by 0.1 per cent from the 2012 total of 278,400. Despite the minimal decline, the 2013 colony count is the second highest on record. Preliminary statistics indicate that while Alberta accounts for a relatively small percentage (10.6 per cent) of the nation’s total beekeepers (8,483), it had 41.7 per cent of the honey producing colonies in Canada.

Alberta produced slightly more honey in 2013 than was previously forecasted. Final estimates show total production at 33.2 million pounds, compared to the preliminary fall 2013 forecast of 32.2 million pounds. Even so, the final 2013 production was 12.6 per cent lower than the 2012 production of 38.0 million pounds. Some factors that led to the decline were the cold and long spring, aggressive hive splits to replace winterkill, irregular weather patterns during summer (including rain in many locations and drought in others), and flooding in some areas where canola suffered from excess water and subsequently affected the nutritional quality of pollen and nectar production.

Preliminary estimates by Statistics Canada peg total Canadian honey production in 2013 at 75.5 million pounds, 16.8 per cent lower than the 90.8 million pounds in 2012. Based on the preliminary estimates, Alberta accounted for 42.7 per cent of the nation’s honey production in 2013.

In 2013, honey production was down across all regions in Alberta with the exception of the North West. At 10.9 million pounds, the North West region produced the highest amount of honey, and accounted for 32.9 per cent of the total provincial production of 33.2 million pounds (see tables 2 and 4). The Peace region was second with 9.9 million pounds, (or 29.8 per cent), followed by the South with 5.8 million pounds (or 17.3 per cent). The North East region had the lowest production with 3.1 million pounds (or 9.4 per cent), then the Central region with 3.5 million pounds (or 10.6 per cent). It cannot be over emphasized that the estimated honey production on a regional basis is directly tied to colony numbers, yield per colony and using of bees for hybrid canola pollination, hence, explaining the variation among regions.

The Alberta Beekeepers’ Survey also included questions regarding the pollination of crops. Based on the survey results (which did not include all beekeepers involved in pollination activities), 38,386 colonies were rented for pollination in 2013, with an average rental charge of $163.50 per colony.


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 2013 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, Melodie Mynzak, and Medhat Nasr for their contributions to this report.

This report is also available on the Internet at:
Alberta Beekeepers Survey Results

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 - Current Document
Alberta 2012 Beekeepers' Survey Results
Alberta 2011 Beekeepers' Survey Results
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 October 7, 2014.
Last Reviewed/Revised on December 13, 2017.