By , on November 6th, 2013

Canada May Continue Ban on U.S. Packaged Bees

Commercial beekeepers in Canada are pressing for lift on the ban of importing packaged bees from the U.S.  In 1987, Canada closed the border to U.S. packages.  Since 1993 it has allowed honeybee queens to be imported from the U.S.

The main reason for this push from commercial beekeepers, which own 83% of the honey bee hives in Canada, is economic.  Last year, Canadian beekeepers imported 40,000 packages from New Zealand, Chile and Australia.  By lifting the ban, the beekeepers in Canada would have access to the lower cost packages from the U.S.

The beekeepers in Canada are divided on this issue.  While the commercial sector favors the lift, small and medium size beekeepers oppose the lift due to the risk of bringing in U.S. packages (Africanized bees, small hive beetle, medication-resistant mites and American Foulbrood).

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is circulating a risk assessment on the lift of the import ban but has not released their report publicly.  However, reports are that the Agency has concluded that the border should remain closed.

The impact of this decision, whether to open the border or keep it closed, directly affects many U.S. beekeepers who purchase starter packages.  As most U.S. beekeepers are aware, the spring demand for packaged bees usually exceeds the supply.  This situation was particularly evident in the spring of 2013 when many beekeepers were unable to buy the number of packages they wanted, the packages arrived late and there were many concerns regarding the quality of the packages (particularly the queens).

If the border to Canada is opened for import of U.S. packages, the demand will certainly increase for a limited supply of packages.  Prices will surely go up (remember your basic economics class?) and the shortages the U.S. experienced in 2013 will certainly be exacerbated.

The information for this post was obtained from an article published by Bee Culture.

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