Manitoba Honey Bee Day: How to celebrate


There is great excitement in Manitoba's beekeeping industry as people come together to honour the black and yellow workers.

On Wednesday, beekeepers at the Little Brown Jug will host an event in honor of Manitoba Honey Bee Day.

Attendees are invited to enjoy a golden beer, talk to beekeepers and taste honey. A portion of the event's proceeds will go to the Manitoba Beekeepers' Association.

Michael Clark, a third-generation beekeeper, says the event will help support an industry still struggling with record losses in 2021/22.

According to data from the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists, winter losses across the country amounted to 45.5 percent, almost double the previous year.

Manitoba reported the highest winter losses in 2022 at 57.2 percent.

Clark's colonies in southwestern Manitoba were hit even harder this year.

“We've lost about 97 percent of our colonies. We're in the third year of recovery and have a few more years to go. It's an uphill battle.”

Wild bees are also now facing challenges. Several species are on Canada's endangered wildlife species list.

As natural pollinators, they are extremely beneficial to crops. According to a study by the University of British Columbia, natural pollinators increase annual agricultural income by $2.8 billion, which is enough food to feed 24 million people.

Clark says the problems beekeepers face mirror those facing wild pollinators.

“We can't know how bad it is for them, but we assume they are suffering in silence because they are so closely related to what we can do.”

Still, Clark says beekeeping is a rewarding career. He loves being out in nature and watching his colonies grow and thrive.

And there is no one who works harder than the honey bee, he says.

“They spend most of their lives inside the hive. They're busy cleaning up. They're nurse bees. They take care of the babies, and then when they grow up, they come out the entrance into the forager world. At that point, they have two to three weeks left, then their wings fall off,” he said.

“So they are literally working themselves to death.”

– With files from Rachel Lagacé and Becca Clarkson of CTV