Funding earmarked for honey and cranberry projects
The federal and provincial governments are chipping in funds for two projects in British Columbia aimed at improving honey harvesting and cranberry yields.
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 projects are two of 28 announced recently that will receive more than $2.7 million in support under the Canada-British Columbia Agri-Innovation Program. Projects under the program have received more than $5.3 million in funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, 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.
“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 Agriculture and Agri-food Minister Marie-Claude Bibea said in a press release.
“The innovative projects coming out of B.C. are impressive,” said B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham. “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.”
UFV associate professor, engineering and physics, Lin Long said 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 B.C. and Canadian agriculture. Moreover, the funding enhances the partnership between academic and industry, and gives UFV engineering students real work experience.”
B.C. Cranberry Marketing Commission chair Jack Brown said 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.”
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 businesses, with more than 52,000 total colonies. In 2018, B.C. colonies produced more than 1.5 million kilograms of honey.
Farmgate sales for cranberries, meanwhile, reached more than $43 million in 2017. More than 42,000 tonnes of cranberries were harvested in B.C. in 2017.