With harvest underway and festivals like the Manitou Honey Garlic and Maple Syrup Festival happening, honey collection is being completed or underway in the Pembina Valley.
Josh Wiebe, the owner and beekeeper of Border Hills Honey, has been busy collecting honey and selling it at farmers markets and festivals.
Wiebe is a member of the Pembina Valley Backyard Bee Keepers, and is an advocate of bee information and bee health.
Many news outlets have been releasing articles on the decline and extinction of the bee. Though wild bee populations are in need of help, Wiebe says the same isn’t entirely true for managed populations.
"What we're seeing in the news right now has to do with the native bees, not necessarily the honey bees that are being managed. Native bees are having a lot of issues due to loss of habitat and pesticide sprays."
In Canada, there are over 800 species of native bees ranging from the bumblebee which is often mistaken for honey bees, to some bee species that don’t even sting.
A new chart released has shown honey bee populations are no longer on a decline. However, the United States has had issues the past year with Colony Collapse Disorder.
Wiebe states bees need support, even with managed bee populations stabilizing, there needs to be continued work.
Beekeepers need to be vigilant looking for disease and pests like varroa mites in hives along with programs like General Mills and Cheerios wildflower program.
"Anything you can do to help the bees as far as planting your garden, plant more flowers, bees love flowers. Early in spring, I like to see yards that are full of yellow flowers. Dandelions are the first thing the bee can feast on. It’s important for them to get to that nectar source because they’ve had a long, hard, cold winter."
Wiebe has been a beekeeper for five years. Starting from five hives, Border Hills Honey has grown to 100 hives.
Wiebe and his wife both work full-time on top of bee keeping, and wanted to start because it looked interesting and on a whim bought five hives.
On average a hive can contain over 60,000 bees with populations dropping to 10,000 over winter. A hive can produce around 170 pounds of honey at the end of a season.