BEAVERLODGE, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Sept. 5, 2012) - Here in the heart of the Peace Country, long known as one of Canada's major honey-producing regions, there is heartfelt celebration at the completion of the National Bee Diagnostic Centre, a new laboratory under the management of Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC) located at the Beaverlodge research farm of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The occasion was marked today by a ribbon-cutting celebration, and honoured by the presence of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification and Chris Warkentin, Member of Parliament for Peace River, among the attending dignitaries.
Funding to establish the new National Bee Diagnostic Centre was provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Alberta Rural Development Fund, and GPRC. The $2.2 million project included a new building and diagnostic equipment. Two members of the scientific team are already in place, and GPRC is working on finalizing details as equipment is installed. Diagnostic services are expected to begin within the next few weeks.
"Our Government recognizes the significant role of the beekeeping industry in contributing to the overall health of our agricultural sector and supporting jobs in communities across Western Canada," said Minister Yelich. "Today's opening will help ensure the continued strength of our bee and honey industry, while enabling beekeepers to access the resources they need to grow their businesses and remain competitive."
The Centre, which is located next to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Beaverlodge Research Farm, will be the only one of its kind in Canada to offer a wide range of comprehensive services to beekeeping businesses all under one roof. It will focus on detecting and diagnosing the health of honey bees, providing scientific support to facilitate the importing and exporting of bees, and preventing or reducing winter losses. The Centre is expected to perform approximately 1,500 diagnostic services each year for businesses and other clients. These services will help increase the growth, international competitiveness and profitability of this important industry.
"We are proud to work with Grande Prairie Regional College to support research and promote the health of honey bees," said MP Warkentin. "As Alberta accounts for 40 per cent of the nation's honey production, our Government's investment is ensuring our province continues to be a top producer of high quality honey."
The opening of the National Bee Diagnostic Centre now positions Alberta as a global leader in beekeeping research and diagnostic technology, and will have a critical impact on the continued health of the bee and honey industry while fostering the continued growth of beekeeping businesses here and around the world.
"This facility is a very welcome opportunity for our region and our College," said Don Gnatiuk, GPRC President and CEO. "More than that, this project is of great importance to food production industries throughout the country and around the world. We are privileged to be a participant in this significant scientific project, and fully committed to its success."