SOURCE: Vancity Credit Union

Vancity Credit Union

July 20, 2016 08:00 ET

Report: B.C. Bucking the Trend on Global Bee Shortage

Bees Generating Close to $500 Million in Economic Activity, With More Possible

COAST SALISH TERRITORY/VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - July 20, 2016) - While bee populations are declining worldwide, B.C. honeybees are thriving, helping to generate close to $500 million in annual economic activity, says a new report by Vancity credit union.

The report, Sweet Deal: The value of bees to British Columbia's economy, found that B.C.'s bees are thriving with one of the highest annual colony survival rates in North America. It also found the B.C. bee industry has the potential to grow by at least $50 million within the next five years.

Factors that contribute to the strong performance of B.C. honeybees include a high level of expertise among local beekeepers, robust extension and training programs from both government and the private sector and a high diversity and abundance of flowering plants upon which bees can forage for nectar and pollen.

The report found:

  • Bees are challenged worldwide by pesticides, nutritional deficiencies, diseases and pests, threatening to disrupt up to US$577 billion in crop production.
  • Data released this year indicates that pollination is the primary, and growing, economic benefit of bees, valued in B.C. at $468 million in 2014, a 67-per-cent increase since 2001.
  • The number of beekeepers in B.C. has risen 35 per cent since 2009, with notable increase in beekeepers under the age of 40.
  • The total value of retail sales for B.C. honey doubled from $8 million to $16 million between 2014 and 2015, reflecting an increase in retail prices from $4.60/lb. in 2014 to $7.45/lb. in 2015.
  • Recent data shows that in 2014, B.C. imported 573,200 pounds of honey, the equivalent of one-fifth of provincial production, so there is room and opportunity in the retail market for at least $3 million more B.C. honey production.

Global declines in wild bee populations over many decades and limited availability of honeybee colonies have reduced pollination services and decreased crop yields. In B.C., most crops are well pollinated with the exception of blueberry crops, which experience about 20-per-cent diminished productivity due to inadequate pollination.

The report recommends reducing pesticide use to help improve honeybee survival, enhance wild bee populations and strengthen environmental protection.

Quotes
"B.C. is emerging as a leader when it comes to bees and we should do everything we can to grow this important industry. Improving pollination and higher yields for blueberry crops, increasing retail honey sales and establishing a vibrant honeybee package and nucleus business could add $53 million annually to the B.C. economy."
- William Azaroff, Vancity's vice-president of community investment

"B.C. has a robust diversity of wild bees, which if supported through habitat restoration, would improve farmer income through enhanced pollination and increased crop yields, thereby maintaining low fruit and vegetable prices for consumers."
- Mark Winston, professor and senior fellow at Simon Fraser University's Centre for Dialogue

Additional information
Report: Sweet Deal: The value of bees to British Columbia's economy
Backgrounder: Vancity's investment in bees, pollination and honey

About Vancity
Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 519,000 member-owners and their communities in the Coast Salish and Kwakwaka'wakw territories, with 59 branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, Squamish and Alert Bay. As Canada's largest community credit union, Vancity uses its $19.8 billion in assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

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