Alberta 2016 Beekeepers' Survey Results

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Purpose of survey | Methodology | Highlights of the Alberta 2015/2016 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 of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) 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, Statistics Canada and other stakeholders.

This report focuses on the results of the Alberta 2016 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 January 2017, survey questionnaires were mailed out to 1,225 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 2016.

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 would recieve the resulting publication highlighting the results of the 2016 Beekeepers’ survey. As of August 4, 2017, a total of 776 questionnaires were received, of which 652 were usable and formed the basis in developing the Alberta 2016 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 2015/2016 Paired Beekeeping Surveys

The following survey highlights are based on the responses of 299 producers who participated in both the 2015 and 2016 Alberta Beekeepers’ Surveys (See Table 1).

Paired Sample Highlights:
  • In 2016, beekeepers purchased more packages/nucs than in 2015. Purchases increased 59.8 per cent, with the average beekeeper buying 61 packages/nucs, compared to 38 in 2015. Practically all of the packages/nucs purchased in 2016 were imported (98.68 per cent), with the remainder purchased locally.
  • The distribution of imported packages was as follows: New Zealand (99.79 per cent), and Australia (0.21 per cent). Compared to 2015, imports of packages from New Zealand increased, while those from Australia fell substantially.
  • In 2016, beekeepers sourced 94.94 per cent of their nuc purchases from British Columbia and 5.06 per cent from Alberta. 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 $227.01, while in British Columbia it was $224.97.
  • Individual queen purchases increased 17.8 per cent in 2016 with producers purchasing 207 queens on average, compared to 176 in 2015. 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 71.97 per cent of the total, while other US States were second with 24.88 per cent and British Columbia third, with 1.74 per cent.
  • Average queen prices in 2016 ranged from $30.85 to $46.13, depending upon the source of purchase. The price per queen was lowest for other US States at $30.85, followed by Hawaii at $32.40 and Chile at $33.50, respectively. New Zealand had the highest priced queens at $46.13.
  • In 2016, the percentage deathloss for queens purchased in packages and nucs fell to 7.09 per cent down slightly, from 9.84 per cent in 2015. For individual queens, the comparable percentage was up marginally by 9.94 per cent from 8.34 per cent in 2015.
  • On June 30, 2016, there was more honey in inventory than a year earlier. Producers on average had 5,600 pounds in stock, up 13.3 per cent from 4,943 pounds in 2015.
  • Alberta continues to be the preferred location for the over-wintering of bees. In 2016, 99.50 per cent of over-wintering activity (indoor/outdoor) occurred in the province, with the rest carried out in British Columbia.
  • “Outdoor” over-wintering remains the favored practice, accounting for 75.32 per centof the total colonies over-wintered in 2016.
  • In 2016, the average beekeeper reported 12.10 years of beekeeping experience. Yearsof experience in over-wintering “outdoor” was lower at 10.01 years, while for “indoor” itwas 14.83 years.
  • Producer prices received in 2015 for honey were higher than expected for retail andwholesale. The average price realized for wholesale honey was $178.33 per cwt, or$0.96 higher than the expected price of $177.37 per cwt. The average realized price for retail honey was $366.22 per cwt, $12.47 above the expected price of $353.75 per cwt. The 2016 expected prices for honey are $124.43 per cwt wholesale, and $389.05 per cwt retail.
Honey Production in Alberta

In 2016, there were 1,453 beekeepers in Alberta, up 36.6 per cent from 2015 (see tables 3 and 4), and the highest number since 1987 (1,480 beekeepers). The rise in the number of beekeepers is largely due to an increase in the number of hobby beekeepers. Colony numbers rose for the third consecutive year setting a new record of 309,000 colonies and up 4.1 per cent from the 2015. Preliminary statistics indicate that while Alberta accounts for a relatively small percentage (14.2 per cent) of the nation’s total beekeepers, it accounted for 40.7 per cent of the honey producing colonies in Canada.

Alberta produced more honey in 2016 than was previously forecasted. Final estimates show total production at 40.2 million pounds, compared to the preliminary fall 2016 forecast of 38.1 million pounds. Even so, the final 2016 production was 1.8 per cent higher than the 2015 production of 39.5 million pounds.
Preliminary estimates by Statistics Canada peg total Canadian honey production in 2016 at 92.2 million pounds, 0.2 per cent higher than the 92.0 million pounds in 2015. Based on the preliminary estimates, Alberta accounted for 41.4 per cent of the nation’s honey production in 2016.

In 2016, honey production was up across all regions in Alberta with the exception of the Central and North West regions (see tables 2 and 4). The increase in most regions was attributed to a rise in the number of honey bee colonies, and significantly higher yields. At 13.9 million pounds, the North West region produced the highest amount of honey and accounted for 34.6 per cent of the total provincial production of 40.1 million pounds. The Peace region was second with 11.2 million pounds, (or 27.8 per cent), followed by the North East region with 6.2 million pounds (or 15.4 per cent). The Central region had the lowest production with 4.0 million pounds (or 9.9 per cent), followed by the South region at 4.9 million pounds (or 12.2 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), 23,378 colonies were rented for pollination in 2016, with an average rental charge of $173.89 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 2016 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:

John Paul Emunu
Livestock Statistician
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

Other Documents in the Series

  Alberta 2017 Beekeepers' Survey Results
Alberta Beekeepers Survey Results
Alberta 2016 Beekeepers' Survey Results - Current Document
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
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 24, 2017.
Last Reviewed/Revised on December 5, 2018.