Biosecurity, disease reduction program for commercial Manitoba beekeepers

This aid under the Ag Action Manitoba Program for Farmers might be short lived

It may be a case of use it or lose it for Manitoba’s beekeepers.

They’re being urged to apply now for help under a cost-sharing program that’s aimed at commercial beekeepers trying to control diseases which may only be available this year.

“There is a maximum of $3,500 in the program,” Rheal Lafreniere, Manitoba Agriculture’s provincial apiarist told 117 honey producers attending an event June 16 at Steppler Farms. “In order to access this 50-50 cost share (program) you’d have to spend $7,000. You don’t have to spend the whole amount. You can just target those specific areas that are most important to you.

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The aid is through Assurance: Animal Health and Biosecurity for Bees, under the Ag Action Manitoba program, funded by the federal and Manitoba governments.

The program encourages honey farmers to look at their hive health management practices and improve biosecurity, Lafreniere said.

Starting this December bee­keepers will have to get their antibiotics through a veter­inarian.

“This program allows you to set up a vet-client relationship with a veterinarian and cover half the costs to do so,” he said. “There is a maximum. It’s $500, but this allows you to have that communication with a vet, have them come over to your farm and start developing a protocol or a procedure of how you want to use antibiotics on your farm.”

The program also can be used to offset some of the cost of sampling bees for antibiotic-resistant American foulbrood spores to see if an operation can be weaned off antibiotics, Lafreniere said.

Funds for that service are capped at $1,000, he said.

Money is available for replacing old brood comb with new disease-free comb.

Funding for that is capped at $2,000.

“The qualifier there is if you are already active in the program under previous programs like Growing Forward 2 you would not be eligible under Ag Action Manitoba,” Lafreniere said. “But if you haven’t you would be eligible for that.

“One other catalogue item that’s on that list — if you want to get more diagnostics on the farm there is money to buy a microscope and if there’s training available that costs you money you could offset those costs similarly with this 50-50 cost share.”

To qualify for the program beekeepers must have 50 or more hives, be registered with Manitoba Agriculture, have a Manitoba Premises Identification Number, and have participated in a biosecurity workshop.

Two biosecurity workshops are being held Aug. 28 and 30, in Winnipeg (Agricultural Services Complex, 545 University Cres., Manitoba Room: Large EOC (basement) and Brandon (Agriculture Extension Building, 1129 Queens Ave., Room: Classroom A), respectively. Both meetings run from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

For more information contact Rheal Lafreniere at 204-945-4825 or [email protected].

For more on Assurance: Animal Health and Biosecurity for Bees visit the Manitoba Agriculture website.

This article was originally published in the June 28, 2018 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator.

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