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The long and warm summer days that are characteristic of Manitoba provide favourable conditions for the management of both honey bees and alfalfa leafcutting bees. Each year Manitoba beekeepers produce in excess of 5,000 metric tonnes of high quality honey. Most of this honey is sold to other regions of Canada, the United States and numerous overseas markets.
High quality beeswax and beeswax products are also produced for both wholesale and retail markets. Alfalfa leafcutting bees, through their pollination of alfalfa, contribute to the annual production of approximately 4,000 metric tonnes of alfalfa seed. In addition, surplus leafcutting bees are sold to alfalfa seed producers in other regions.
Honey is produced by about 500 Manitoba beekeepers, of which 140 are of a commercial size with 100 or more colonies or hives. One colony of 40,000 to 60,000 bees produces, on average, 75 kilograms (155 pounds) of honey in a six-week period between the end of June and the middle of August.
Beekeepers move their colonies to fields of flowering crops such as canola, buckwheat, clover and alfalfa. Once bees begin to gather from one type of crop they generally stay there for the season. Some crops give a distinctive flavour to the honey produced from them.
About 6 million kilograms (13 million pounds) of honey are produced in Manitoba each year. Of that, about 80% is exported all over the world.