Honey, maple syrup production down: StatsCan

Honeybee colonies and maple trees yielded less sweet stuff in 2008 than in 2007, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

The federal statistics agency pegged nationwide honey production for 2008 at 62 million pounds, down 10 per cent from 69 million in 2007. Alberta, which generates over a third of Canada’s honey, took a 25 per cent year-over-year drop in production.

StatsCan cited poor weather conditions, an increasing amount of winter kill and continuing losses from varroa mites as reasons for the drop.

The average yield per colony in Canada in 2008 came in at 106 pounds, down over 10 pounds per colony from 2007 levels. The number of colonies decreased only marginally, dropping less than one per cent to 585,000 managed hives, StatsCan said, citing colony splitting or replacement of colonies as beekeepers tried to rebuild honeybee populations.

“Over the last seasons, beekeepers were facing increasing operating expenses as the cost of fuel and labour were rising,” StatsCan noted. “Additional costs included bee medication and the cost of operating extra hives in anticipation of winter losses.”

Syrup prices up

Canada’s maple syrup yield dropped by 4.8 per cent in 2008 to 4.9 million gallons, compared to 5.1 million in 2007. Quebec, which handles over 90 per cent of Canadian maple syrup production, reported a drop of 219,000 gallons from 2007 levels.

“In Quebec, above-average snowfalls kept day temperatures relatively cold in the early season followed quickly by a warm spring for the rest of the season,” StatsCan said. Ideal weather conditions for sap collection require cold nights followed by sunny days.

That said, the total value of maple products sold in Canada in 2008 increased to almost $212 million, up about $44.4 million from 2007 levels.

“Prices increased by more than $10 per gallon in some provinces due to continuing demand for maple syrup in the domestic and export markets,” the agency said. Prices ranged from $42 per gallon in Quebec to $60 per gallon in Ontario.

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