Manitoba's beekeepers are hoping for a turn around this year.
Ian Steppler is chair of the Manitoba Beekeepers' Association.
"Beekeepers need a bit of a break here. We're just getting pounded by weather. I'm hearing reports from many beekeepers as we're getting into our colonies after winter. Very concerning losses and then I'm hearing other reports from other producers with not so much concern. So it's kind of all over the map. It's early days right now. We haven't really been able to get into our colonies. It's because we haven't been able to get away from all this weather."
Steppler commented on some of the reasons for the loss of bees.
"It's hard to tell right now. We're just investigating into the situation because we're just at the beginning of it but there's a lot of conversation with beekeepers around the province with conditions related directly to that drought we had last summer. That hot and dry and smoky summer we had. It was really stressful on the bees and it might have maybe shifted them out of cycle a little bit and, because of that stress, allowed maybe the pests to cycle in and take hold and it maybe didn't provide producers with the ability to adequately treat the mites as maybe we should have been able to."
He notes the unusually warm and flowery fall may also have led to the bees shifting out of winter state back into summer state.
Steppler says Manitoba supplies roughly 20 million pounds of honey and a potential loss of honey bees will impact the honey supply.
He adds the issue of importing bees from the U.S. is being discussed due to the lack of replacement stock.