Funding boost pollinates innovations for bee hives and cranberries

From: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

B.C. businesses are partnering with the federal and provincial governments to help their business grow, produce and pollinate.

Beekeepers looking for new ways to produce more honey and cranberry producers seeking more pollinators are two examples of the 28 projects that received over $2.7 million in support.

An innovation project proposed by the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) and the Worker Bee Honey Company was selected to receive $170,320 to support the development of an automated honey extraction information system to improve honey harvesting in B.C.

The proposed system will increase efficiency, reduce processing time and help address the shortage of skilled labour in the honey industry by automating harvesting through improved technology. The system will be able to monitor each hive’s honey yield and provide insight into superior breeding stock of male and queen bees, hive diseases, and the impact of environmental variables such as climate and weather on each hive. The results of this project will help beekeepers better care for their hives and improve honey yield.

Similarly, an innovation project submitted by the BC Cranberry Marketing Commission (BCCMC) was selected to receive $10,725 to support a study on pollination across different varieties of cranberries. Researchers are looking into how to increase cranberry yield through artificial pollination. They will monitor how often pollinators visit different varieties of plants during peak bloom which will help growers plan for future seasons.

The two projects are a small sample of the innovative ideas that B.C.-based organizations are working on to build a more sustainable future for agriculture in British Columbia. Projects under the Canada-British Columbia Agri-Innovation Program have received over $5.3 million in funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The Partnership is a five-year federal-provincial-territorial agreement that includes $2 billion in cost-shared strategic initiatives delivered by the provinces and territories, and $1 billion for federal programs and services through March 2023.

Quotes

“Time and again producers prove their ingenuity in finding solutions to the challenges they face. Our government is very excited to collaborate with industry and the province on the introduction of these innovations, which help our British Columbian agriculture industry grow in sustainable ways.”

– Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, Marie-Claude Bibeau

“The innovative projects coming out of B.C. are impressive! This research is helping producers make better use of technology and pollinators to increase the amount of honey and cranberries they harvest and grow their businesses. Results from these projects and the other exciting initiatives underway are improving farming in B.C. and driving the industry forward.”

– B.C. Minister of Agriculture, Lana Popham

“The Canada-British Columbia Agri-Innovation Program enables a prototype of an automated honey extraction system. By reducing costs to beekeepers, this will help to ensure a sustainable bee/honey sector which is essential for the long-term success of BC and Canadian agriculture. Moreover, the funding enhances the partnership between academic and industry, and gives UFV engineering students real work experience.”

– University of the Fraser Valley, Associate Professor, Engineering and Physics, Lin Long

“Co-funding from the Agri-Innovation Program is helping B.C. cranberry producers better understand how to manage pollinators to support cranberry production. This project will help B.C. cranberry farmers continue to grow quality fruit with greater efficiency.”

– BC Cranberry Marketing Commission, Chair, Jack Brown

Quick facts

  • Cranberries

  • In 2017, farmgate sales for cranberries reached over $43 million.

  • Over 42,000 tonnes of cranberries were harvested in B.C. in 2017.

  • Honeybees

  • Honeybees play a major role in agriculture as pollinators of crops, contributing an estimated $538 million to the B.C. economy and over $3.2 billion across Canada.

  • There are almost 2,700 beekeepers throughout B.C., operating as a hobby, part-time or full-time business, with more than 52,000 total colonies.

  • In 2018:

    • B.C. colonies produced over 1.5 million kilograms of honey.
    • British Columbians bought over $10.5 million of B.C. honey.
    • Over 29,000 colonies were contracted to pollinate B.C. crops.

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