Alberta 2015 Beekeepers' Survey Results

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 Purpose of survey | Methodology | Highlights of the Alberta 2014/2015 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 2015 Beekeepers’ Survey and the related estimates developed.


The Alberta Beekeepers’ Survey, which is provincial in scope, collects data from producers through a non-probability survey. In February 2016, survey questionnaires were mailed out to 840 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 2015.

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 resulting publication highlighting the results of the 2015 Beekeepers’ survey. As of July 14, 2016, a total of 529 questionnaires were received, of which 513 were usable and formed the basis in developing the Alberta 2015 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 2014/2015 Paired Beekeeping Surveys

The following survey highlights are based on the responses of 271 producers who participated in both the 2014 and 2015 Alberta Beekeepers’ Surveys (See Table 1).

Paired sample highlights:
  • In 2015, beekeepers purchased more packages/nucs than in 2014. Purchases increased 53.9 per cent, with the average beekeeper buying 95 packages/nucs, compared to 62 in 2014. The majority of packages/nucs purchased in 2015 were imported (90.91 per cent), with the remainder purchased locally.
  • The distribution of imported packages was as follows: New Zealand (93.90 per cent), Australia (5.71 per cent) and other (0.39 per cent). Compared to 2014, imports of packages from New Zealand were down, and up from Australia.
  • In 2015, beekeepers sourced 61.23 per cent of their nuc purchases from British Columbia, 34.60 per cent from Alberta and 4.17 per cent from other Canadian Provinces (mostly Saskatchewan). The number of nucs purchased from British Columbia decreased compared to the previous year, while purchases in Alberta increased. The average nuc price in Alberta was $219.98, while in British Columbia it was $216.00, and $224.22 for other Canadian provinces.
  • Individual queen purchases increased 1.0 per cent in 2015 with producers purchasing 344 queens on average, compared to 341 in 2014. Practically all of the queen purchases were from outside of the province (99.97 per cent). Hawaii continues to be the primary source of imports, accounting for 75.18 per cent of the total, while other US States were second with 23.22 per cent and British Columbia third, with 0.80 per cent.
  • Average queen prices in 2015 ranged from $28.35 to $36.34, depending upon the source of purchase. The price per queen was lowest for other US States at $28.35, followed by Chile at $29.00 and Hawaii at $29.72, respectively. Saskatchewan had the highest price at $36.34.
  • In 2015, the percentage deathloss for queens purchased in packages and nucs rose to 7.57 per cent, from 6.93 per cent in 2014. For individual queens, the comparable percentage was down to 7.11 per cent, from 8.09 per cent in 2014.
  • On June 30, 2015, there was more honey in inventory than a year earlier. Producers on average had 9,951 pounds in stock, up from 4,696 pounds in 2014.
  • Alberta continues to be the preferred location for the over-wintering of bees. In 2015, 99.77 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 78.67 per cent of the total colonies over-wintered in 2015.
  • In 2015, the average beekeeper reported 14.03 years of beekeeping experience. Years of experience in over-wintering “outdoor” was lower at 11.81 years, while for “indoor” it was 15.20 years.
  • Producer prices received in 2014 for honey were higher than expected for retail and wholesale. The average price realized for wholesale honey was $214.84 per cwt, $21.89 higher than the expected price of $192.95 per cwt. The average realized price for retail honey was $382.96 per cwt, $22.28 above the expected price of $360.68 per cwt. The 2015 expected prices for honey are $177.37 per cwt wholesale, and $353.75 per cwt retail.

Honey Production in Alberta

In 2015, there were 1,064 beekeepers in Alberta, up 4.8 per cent from 2014 (see tables 3 and 4), and the highest number since 1988. Colony numbers reached another record 296,880, and were up 4.9 per cent from the 2014 total of 282,900. Preliminary statistics indicate that while Alberta accounts for a relatively small percentage (11.7 per cent) of the nation’s total beekeepers, it had 40.9 per cent of the honey producing colonies in Canada.

Alberta produced less honey in 2015 than was previously forecasted. Final estimates show total production at 39.5 million pounds, compared to the preliminary fall 2014 forecast of 42.8 million pounds. Even so, the final 2015 production was 11.2 per cent higher than the 2014 production of 35.5 million pounds.

Preliminary estimates by Statistics Canada peg total Canadian honey production in 2015 at 95.3 million pounds, 11.4 per cent higher than the 85.6 million pounds in 2014. Based on the preliminary estimates, Alberta accounted for 44.9 per cent of the nation’s honey production in 2015.

In 2015, honey production was up across all regions in Alberta with the exception of the South region. The increase in most regions was attributed to a rise in the number of honey bee colonies, and significantly higher yields. At 17.3 million pounds, the North West region produced the highest amount of honey and accounted for 43.8 per cent of the total provincial production of 39.5 million pounds (see tables 2 and 4). The Peace region was second with 9.5 million pounds, (or 24.1 per cent), followed by the North East region with 5.1 million pounds (or 13.1 per cent). The South region had the lowest production with 3.4 million pounds (or 8.6 per cent), with the Central region second lowest at 4.2 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 and yield per colony, 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), 42,072 colonies were rented for pollination in 2015, with an average rental charge of $165.56 per colony.


The Statistics and Data Development Section of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) gratefully acknowledge and thank the many producers who participated in the Alberta 2015 Beekeepers’ survey. Without their participation, this report would not have been possible.

As well, the Section wishes to acknowledge several staff members of AF, including Reynold Jaipaul, Marian Elson, 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 of the report and further information regarding the survey or survey results, please do not hesitate to 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 - Current Document
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
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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 November 16, 2016.
Last Reviewed/Revised on December 5, 2018.