President’s Message – September 2021

 

Heather Higo ~ BCHPA President

Hello again to all our BCHPA members!

We are at a crossroads now in our beekeeping, with bees gathering honey and ripening it in the frames, and management switching over from keeping up with expanding colony growth, to removing our honey crop, monitoring and treating for mites, and evaluating the queen’s production to ensure she is robust enough to take the colony through winter. I have heard varying reports throughout the province of both sparse honey flows due to drought, and also strong honey flows in some areas where either there is irrigation, or the nectar forage plants are so deeply rooted that the prolonged drought has not tamped down a great honey flow. But we have a diverse province, and some northern areas have not experienced drought at all, instead of benefiting from adequate rain providing good bee forage and

predictions of a good honey harvest.

Throughout the province, we are seeing the normal sharp increases in yellow jacket wasps at this time of year – time to reduce entrances and make sure our colonies do not get overwhelmed with robbing. In the Fraser Valley, we are also keeping watch for the Asian Giant Hornet – an apex insect predator capable of doing much damage to our colonies that we are hoping has not yet become established.

Despite our full bee season, your BCHPA executive has been busy the last few months with finalizing the Province’s funding of our Tech Transfer program (TTP), and working on hiring the first team lead from a pool of great candidates! We are excited about the potential to improve bee health in BC through educational workshops and applied research that a Tech Transfer Program can bring to our industry.

Your executive holds monthly meetings year-round, and at our July meeting, a BCHPA Farm Status committee was formed to provide input to both the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries following a request to the BCHPA for such input. We expect to hear more in the coming months and have suggested a joint meeting with them to move the issues forward.

The executive also discussed the upcoming AGM which will again be virtual due to Covid uncertainties around safety. Dan Mawson and Jeff Lee, your first and second vice-presidents, are working towards an exciting program for the education days, incorporating some of your own ideas for speakers.

Lastly, I would like to address BC’s fire situation. I can’t imagine the stress of living close to or inside a likely fire zone and to not know if, or when, you will be forced to leave. When fellow beekeepers are directly in the path of the fire, it brings the reality of it home with a jolt. I understand that livestock rescue arrangements can sometimes be made, but I’m not sure that applies to bees? When the smoky haze finally reached the Fraser Valley it gave us an eerie apocalyptic feeling to the light throughout the day. Living with the intense smoke and fire dangers in the interior of the province on a prolonged basis is not healthy for us or our livestock, and it cannot be sustained in the long term. We must take stronger steps to address climate change and possibly look to modifying our forest management strategies as climate change accelerates.

Wishing you all a good honey harvest in spite of the fires and prolonged drought in much of the province – our bees often prove themselves to be much more resilient than imagined.

Heather

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