Local bee industry profiting from buy-local business model

Beekeepers in B.C. and in the East Kootenay region have not been stung by the ever-changing honey industry.

Beekeepers in B.C. and in the East Kootenay region have not been stung by the ever-changing honey industry.

According to the B.C. provincial government, shoppers bought honey straight from producing beekeepers with estimated farm receipts (for B.C. retail sales from farmers’ markets, roadside stands and direct sales to customers) of honey reaching more than $25 million in 2015 — almost doubling from 2014.

Golden-based Rocky Mountain Honey Farm owner Jutta Krezdorn has experienced this unique relationship between customers and her business. She believes the beekeeping industry benefits the economy provincially if honey sales are done directly between beekeepers and shoppers.

“People like this,” said Ms. Krezdorn, while discussing the effects of working as a honey retailer. “It’s a special (product) when you can buy it directly from the beekeeper.”

In comparison, beekeepers’ farm cash receipts from honey sold to stores and wholesale packers topped $3 million in 2015.

“The beekeeping industry is playing a major role in the province’s economy,” said Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick in a recent press release. “These statistics show that more and more British Columbians are choosing to buy their honey direct from beekeepers, and showing a strong interest in buying local foods. Supporting local food producers creates local jobs and revenue, and is a sweet reward to the province’s beekeepers.”

The sales from beeswax, which is used to make candles and is used at times in food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical production, also increased to reach over $1 million in 2015.

The province is home to more than 2,400 beekeepers and almost 45,000 colonies of bees.

Beekeeper’s pollination income for 2015 brought in an estimated $5 million with honeybees used to pollinate B.C.’s fruit, berry, and canola farms. Crop pollination contributes an estimated $250 million to the economy in B.C. and more than $2 billion in Canada. The beekeeping statistics were collected through Ministry of Agriculture beekeeper surveys.

Beekeeping is celebrated on May 29th each year because it was declared the Day of the Honey Bee to remind British Columbians of the significant role both bees and beekeepers play on a daily basis and to recognize the vital importance of bees in modern agriculture and the environment.