Bees and canola are good for each other

Bees are good for canola. Canola is good for bees. Canola flowers provide an important source of nectar and pollen for honey producers in Western Canada: 80% of the honey produced in Canada comes from canola flowers. Honey bees and other pollinators can also increase canola yields. Although napus canola is self-pollinating, studies show that the extra level of pollination that bees and other pollinators provide can increase yields up to 15%. This benefit should be considered when making management decisions in canola that could harm bees.

Although it may be difficult to protect native pollinating insects, honeybee kill can be minimized through co-operation with beekeepers. The Saskatchewan and Manitoba Guides to Crop Protection provide the following to maximize pollination benefits to canola and ensure continued good working relationships with commercial beekeepers:

—Carefully sample sites in a field to be absolutely sure that insect population levels are high enough to require control measures.
—Discuss spray plans with beekeepers prior to spraying. Since the hives may have to be moved, give beekeepers at least two days notice prior to spraying.
—If hives cannot be adequately protected (moved or covered) before insecticide spraying begins, alert the spray applicator to the exact location of the beehives within the intended spray area, so they can avoid direct spraying or spray drift contamination of the hives.
—Give careful attention to wind direction and velocity in relation to bee yard locations.
—Do not spray a crop in flower unless absolutely necessary.
—If spraying a crop in flower is necessary, follow insecticide label instructions and do the spraying when there will be minimal bee activity in the fields, preferably during the evening hours. During most summer evenings, honeybees leave fields by 8:00 p.m. and do not return until 8:00 a.m. or later. Warm temperatures, however, can “hold” bees in flowering fields for periods longer than normal.
—Whenever possible, choose insecticides with low hazard potential to bees. Confirm with current guide to crop protection, product labels, or the local agricultural representative or district agriculturist or apiarist.
—Do not spray crops of uneven maturity which are partly in flower or which contain flowering weeds when bees are active.

For more on the economic benefit of bees in canola, read this MAFRI factsheet: Bees On Canola – MB Fact Sheet

Or contact your regional PMRA office or provincial apiculturalist:

Rheal Lafreniere
Business Development Specialist – Provincial Apiarist
Industry Focus Section
Crops Knowledge Centre
Room 204-545 University Crescent
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 5S6
Phone: (204) 945-4825

Geoff Wilson
Saskatchewan Provincial Specialist in Apiculture, SBA Ex officio
Box 3003, 800 Central Avenue,
Prince Albert, SK S6V 6G1
Phone 306-953-2304 Fax 306-953-2440

Medhat Nasr
Provincial Apiculturist, Alberta
Pest Surveillance Branch
17507 Fort Road NW
Edmonton Alberta
T5Y 6H3
Phone: 780 415-2314
Fax: 780 422-6096