VICTORIA - It has been estimated that up to one-third of the food we eat is the result of and dependent on pollination by honey bees.
The Day of the Honey Bee is held on May 29 in recognition of the critical importance of honey bees to the province's agriculture sector and, by extension to British Columbians' health and well-being.
Who would think that a creature as small as the honey bee could hold so much importance - both to our food security and to our economy in British Columbia and around the world? They are responsible for about 70 per cent of our food crop pollination.
Through their role as pollinators, honey bees have played an important role in B.C. agriculture since they were introduced to the Americas by European settlers hundreds of years ago. Today, honey bee colonies remain critical to the production of many crops British Columbians rely on, from tree fruits and berries to forage crops and canola.
Ministry of Agriculture staff work closely with B.C.'s beekeepers to improve disease prevention and control through field inspections and extension services.
Honey bees are an important keystone species and as such, they are the very cornerstone to the sustainability of our agriculture and health of our environment.
Minister of Agriculture Don McRae -
"Today we celebrate B.C. beekeepers' efforts to protect their colonies from environmental conditions and diseases that can affect honey bees. British Columbians can help improve local bee habitat by planting bee-friendly plants that support many different bee populations."
- Approximately $200 million in agricultural production is dependent on honey bee pollination every year in this province. Across North America that number rises to $16 billion per year.
- An estimated 30,000 honey bee colonies are contracted to pollinate food crops on B.C. farms every growing season.
- Pollination activities are worth approximately $2.4 million annually to B.C. beekeepers.
- Many restaurants now have their own bee hives, including the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria that maintain hives on their grounds, using the fresh honey in their restaurants and selling the surplus by the jar.
- Many plant species including bee balm, catmint, foxglove, and lavender are good choices for attracting bees to your garden. Honey bees also like flowering herbs such as chives, thyme, rosemary and mint.
Things you can do to encourage bees:
- Plant a bee-friendly garden with native and nectar-producing flowers.
- Educate yourself on the dangers and risks of using homeowner garden pesticides and chemicals.
- Support local beekeepers by buying honey and other bee products at farm gates and at farmers markets.
- Learn more about this fascinating insect and why it is important.
- Encourage local authorities to use bee-friendly plants in public spaces.
- Support municipal zoning that will allow people to keep beehives on their property.
- Find space for a beehive in your garden.
To find a list of bee-friendly plants, visit:
Visit the BC Honey Producers Association online: http://www.bcbeekeepers.com/
For more information about B.C.'s apiculture industry, visit: http://www.al.gov.bc.ca/apiculture/index.htm
Ministry of Agriculture