The first bees recorded in Saskatchewan date back to 1900. In 1922, there were about 85 beekeepers that produced 24,000 pounds of honey. Most of these beekeepers were located in the southern and eastern parts of the province. After the World Wars, there was an increased interest in honey, which caused a growth in production. By 1947, there were over 10,000 registered beekeepers in Saskatchewan.
Bees were first introduced to Saskatchewan in 1900.
In 2020, Saskatchewan had approximately 112,000 honeybee colonies, which produced 25% of Canada’s honey. The Saskatchewan Beekeepers Development Committee has 35 registered beekeepers. These beekeepers work all year long to promote hive growth and make delicious honey!
There are approximately 112,000 honeybee colonies in Saskatchewan!
One of the main sources of nectar for Saskatchewan honeybees is canola. Canola blooms in June and July and allows Saskatchewan beekeepers to produce some of the highest yields of honey. Canola does not require insect pollination to grow successfully but honey bees have been known to enhance canola yields and quality. It has been found that if farmers add 3 honey bee hives per hectare of canola, it can increase canola yields by 46 percent, compared to canola fields with no honey bee hives.
Canola doesn’t need bees to pollinate it to grow, but canola crops produce much more if honeybees are in the field.
Some bee farmers will produce their honey and sell it under their own labels privately or at farmers’ markets. Other farmers sell their honey to large honey producers such as Bee Maid, who sells that honey in the grocery stores! Honey can also be sold to processing facilities to be made into products such as medicine, cosmetics, and ointments. These types of products are made and packaged at the processing facilities and then transported to retail stores where the products are purchased by customers.
Bee honey can be processed into a variety of products.
Who is Who?
Bees live in colonies called hives. A beekeeper helps its bees by keeping them in a sheltered location, repairs the hives if damaged, and keeps pests such as termites away. A single beehive can make more than 45 kg (100 pounds) of extra honey. The beekeeper only harvests the extra honey made by the bees.
A beekeeper is wearing a protective suit to harvest extra honey from the beehive.
Inside of the Beehive
Bees on Honey
Here are some photos from a beekeeper checking on a hive.
Bees fly thousands of kilometers away, and always come back to the same hive. Each hive has a unique smell, so they know where their home is.
Bees fly far from their hive and can find their way back.
During the winter, honeybees do not become dormant, but rather create a warm climate inside of the hive. They keep the temperature around 10 degrees Celsius. Bees make honey during the summer and eat it over the winter to give them energy. Spring to fall is when the temperature must be high for the nursery. The bees keep the temperature between 32 – 36 degrees Celsius.
In the winter, bees eat honey to get energy.
There is a lot of fascinating technology used by beekeepers. There is software available that monitors the hive to track hive conditions, population of the bees in the hive, temperament of the bees, and how much honey is stored. Beekeepers can even get an alert on their phone if there’s an issue, such as a missing queen, if the bees are swarming, or if there are parasites in the hives. There are also rooftop solar panels that can be added to the hives that can heat the hive to a temperature that the bees enjoy, but parasites cannot tolerate.
These bee hives have solar panels and monitoring systems on them.
A type of hive has also been invented that has a flow lever so that when the beekeeper pulls the lever, the honey flows out. This prevents the beekeeper from having to open the hive and take out each frame that is stored inside of it to extract the honey. This type of hive saves the bees from being disrupted while honey is being removed.
This is a newly invented bee hive, where the honey can flow out of it.
Cosmetics, such as Lip Balm
Ointments to Promote Wound Healing
Bees provide us with honey, but honey is used to make products as well.
Honey contains natural minerals and vitamins that help us promote better health. A tablespoon of honey has 64 calories and sugars that help with digestion.
Honey is a natural ingredient that can be used in a lot of cooking and baking.