Market research for the apicultural industry in NL


In theory, income from the provision of pollination services to blueberry, cranberry and other fruit producers on the Island of Newfoundland could contribute significantly to the economic viability of several commercial beekeeping operations in the province, when mixed with income from the sale of honey, pollen, beeswax, nucleus colonies and other bee products. However, opportunities for growth in commercial beekeeping appear limited unless blueberry and cranberry acreage expands significantly, and/or other aspects of beekeeping can be developed and marketed in innovative ways. Market research is required to address a number of questions:
• What quantity of lands must be put into cranberry and blueberry production in order to support expanded commercial beekeeping?
• Do we have the bee forage capacity to support a large number of beekeepers including commercial and hobby people? (see forage capacity research priority).
• Where are cranberry and blueberry farming operations located in relation to existing commercial beekeepers? (see forage capacity research priority).
• Where are the best locations for apiary placement, by commercial and hobby beekeepers, in order to maximize honey production? (see forage capacity research priority).
• What market conditions (market prices for small fruits) must exist in order for it to be financially viable for cranberry and blueberry producers to purchase pollination services from commercial beekeepers, in the absence of government subsidy?
• How many pollination contracts do commercial beekeepers require in order to achieve economies of scale; so that per colony rental fees approach those on the Mainland of Canada, and are therefore more affordable for berry producers in NL (approx. $165 per production colony).
• What other crops would benefit from honey bee pollination in NL; strawberry, raspberry, squash, pumpkin, zucchini, greenhouse crops, what else? What is the cost-benefit of pollination services for such crops? Can producers of such crops afford honey bee pollination services?
• Given NL’s unique status as being relatively free of Varroa and a variety of other pathogens, pests, and diseases, what markets are there nationally and internationally for “clean-bee” exports? What is the potential economic value of these exports? What if anything is required with respect to honey bee breeding (genetics) in order to enhance the marketability of our honey bees in relation to national or international customers?
• What is the potential for the production of certified organic honey and other bee products in the province? What is the economic feasibility of going organic? Are there areas in the province free of pesticides and herbicides where honey bees can be pastured for organic honey production? What are the costs and regulatory challenges related to organic certification?
• What are the domestic and out-of-province markets for NL honey bee products? At what point does the domestic market become saturated with product, given the current price range of this product and the consumer demographic willing to pay top dollar for it? What are the characteristics of the demographic willing to pay top dollar for our product? Are beekeepers in NL willing to sell product to more price-sensitive demographics at lower prices? What are the minimal prices below which commercial beekeeping is not economically viable?

Start date 
5 Apr 2017