Alberta 2014 Beekeepers' Survey Results

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 Purpose of survey | Methodology | Highlights of the Alberta 2013/2014 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 2014 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 February 2015, survey questionnaires were mailed out to 790 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 2014.

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 2014 Beekeepers’ survey. As of August 20, 2015, a total of 440 questionnaires were received, of which 419 were usable and formed the basis in developing the Alberta 2014 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 (AF) 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 2013/2014 Paired Beekeeping Surveys

The following survey highlights are based on the responses of 190 producers who participated in both the 2013 and 2014 Alberta Beekeepers’ Surveys (See Table 1).

Paired Sample Highlights:
  • In 2014, beekeepers purchased more packages/nucs than in 2013. Purchases increased 32.3 per cent, with the average beekeeper buying 107.57 packages/nucs, compared to 81.29 in 2013. The majority of packages/nucs purchased in 2014 were imported (98.79 per cent), with the remainder purchased locally.
  • The distribution of imported packages was as follows: New Zealand (99.74 per cent) and other (0.26 per cent). Compared to 2013, imports of packages from New Zealand were up, while imports from Australia were practically nil.
  • In 2014, beekeepers sourced 93.89 per cent of their nuc purchases from British Columbia, 6.02 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 average nuc price in British Columbia was $173.14, while in Alberta it was $174.13, and $175.00 for other Canadian provinces.
  • Individual queen purchases decreased 4.0 per cent in 2014, with producers purchasing 334.85 queens on average, compared to 348.76 in 2013. Practically all of the queen purchases were from outside of the province (99.80 per cent). Hawaii continues to be the primary source of imports, accounting for 56.83 per cent of the total, while other US States were second with 41.25 per cent and British Columbia third, with 1.36 per cent.
  • Average queen prices in 2014 ranged from $24.59 to $30.08, depending upon the source of purchase. Prices were lowest for other US States at $24.59 per queen, followed by Hawaii at $25.51 per queen and other Canadian provinces at $26.21, respectively. Saskatchewan had the highest price at $30.08 per queen.
  • In 2014, the percentage deathloss for queens purchased in packages and nucs rose to 6.87 per cent, from 5.57 per cent in 2013. For individual queens, the comparable percentage was down to 7.10 per cent, from 7.78 per cent in 2013.
  • On June 30, 2014, there was less honey in inventory than a year earlier. Producers on average had 3,430 pounds in stock, down from 9,182 pounds in 2013.
  • Alberta continues to be the preferred location for the over-wintering of bees. In 2014, 94.46 per cent of over-wintering activity (indoor/outdoor) occurred in the province, with the rest carried out in British Columbia.
  • “Outdoor” over-wintering is still the favored practice, accounting for 77.92 per cent of the total colonies over-wintered in 2014.
  • In 2014, the average beekeeper reported 16.36 years of beekeeping experience. Years of experience in over-wintering “outdoor” was lower at 13.51 years, while for “indoor” it was 15.23 years.
  • Producer prices received in 2013 for honey were slightly lower than expected for retail and higher for wholesale. The average price realized for wholesale honey was $211.21 per cwt, $4.98 higher than the expected price of $206.23 per cwt. The average realized price for retail honey was $340.56 per cwt, $32.98 lower than the expected price of $373.54 per cwt. The 2014 expected prices for honey are $192.95 per cwt wholesale, and $360.68 per cwt retail.

Honey Production in Alberta

In 2014, there were 1,015 beekeepers in Alberta, up 14 per cent from 2013 (see tables 3 and 4), and the highest number since 1988. Colony numbers reached a record 282,900, and were up 1.7 per cent from the 2013 total of 278,100. Preliminary statistics indicate that while Alberta accounts for a relatively small percentage (10.6 per cent) of the nation’s total beekeepers, it had 40.6 per cent of the honey producing colonies in Canada.

Alberta produced slightly more honey in 2014 than was previously forecasted. Final estimates show total production at 35.5 million pounds, compared to the preliminary fall 2014 forecast of 34.4 million pounds. Even so, the final 2014 production was 6.9 per cent higher than the 2013 production of 33.2 million pounds. Production went up despite Alberta beekeepers having to contend with issues surrounding the long winter, cold spring, poor queen quality and the presence of nosema.

Preliminary estimates by Statistics Canada peg total Canadian honey production in 2014 at 81.6 million pounds, 6.7 per cent higher than the 76.5 million pounds in 2013. Based on the preliminary estimates, Alberta accounted for 42.2 per cent of the nation’s honey production in 2014.

In 2014, honey production was up across all regions in Alberta with the exception of the Central and Peace regions. At 13.0 million pounds, the North West region produced the highest amount of honey and accounted for 36.7 per cent of the total provincial production of 35.5 million pounds (see tables 2 and 4). The Peace region was second with 8.8 million pounds, (or 24.8 per cent), followed by the South with 6.2 million pounds (or 17.4 per cent). The Central region had the lowest production with 3.1 million pounds (or 8.8 per cent), then the North East region with 4.4 million pounds (or 12.4 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), 52,030 colonies were rented for pollination in 2014, with an average rental charge of $166.07 per colony.


The Statistics and Data Development Branch of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) gratefully acknowledge and thank the many producers who participated in the Alberta 2014 Beekeepers’ survey. Without their participation, this report would not have been possible.

As well, the Branch wishes to acknowledge several staff members of AF, including Reynold Jaipaul, Marian Elson, Tammy Calvin, 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

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 - Current Document
Alberta 2013 Beekeepers' Survey Results
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 30, 2015.
Last Reviewed/Revised on December 13, 2017.