App offers instant link to bee disease info

The free app will be enhanced to allow picture uploads, 
and that will boost the bee pest surveillance database

Alberta beekeepers will have better access to bee disease and treatment information through a new mobile app developed by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

The free app for iPhone and Android is an easy-to-use tool that will link beekeepers to pictures and current information about pests, diseases and recommended management practices.

“Our province has one of the healthiest bee populations in the country, and the app will help keep it that way,” said provincial apiculturist Medhat Nasr. “This app will assist beekeepers in quickly identifying potential bee disease and treatments. It will also help our staff collect essential pest surveillance data and enhance our understanding of bee health in our province.”

An extra feature is being developed to allow registered Alberta beekeepers to submit bee photos directly to provincial apiculture staff, who will assess health issues and recommend treatment options. Findings will also be recorded in the provincial bee pest surveillance database.

Alberta’s 283,000 honeybee colonies — about 43 per cent of the Canadian total — generate $75 million annually from honey sales and pollination service fees. They also pollinate about $650 million worth of canola each year.

In 2014-15, Alberta had its lowest winter mortality rate in the past eight years, with only a 10 per cent bee loss in the 165,000 wintered honeybee colonies surveyed. That compares to the national average of a 16 per cent loss and the American average of 23 per cent.

The app can be downloaded at programs.alberta.ca by selecting the Mobile Apps tab.

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