A chartered plane with an unusual mix of travelers is scheduled to leave from Nicaragua for Canada on Monday: temporary foreign workers heading to commercial bee operations, and Canadians stranded in Central America amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Flights outside the capital, Managua, have been suspended due to slowing international travel, a complex effort to bring workers to Canada to help manage the spring nest making season – an important time when bees reproduce and develop into healthy colonies. Led by a queen who lays up to 2,000 eggs each day, honeybees are good for more than the name implies; they are very important for pollinating fruits, vegetables and canola.
To prevent labor shortages that could have an impact on the food supply chain and injury to the beekeeping industry, the Canadian Honey Council is taking action on its own. At a cost of about $ 200,000, the council chartered the plane to fly 80 skilled workers from Nicaragua to Canada, first landed in Calgary, then continued east to Saskatoon, Brandon, and Toronto.
“I expect 10 people, and it is very important that they come here,” said Brian Ash, a partner in Ash Apiaries, a large family that runs beekeeping pollinating orchards in BC and making honey in Manitoba. He is one of dozens of beekeepers who will pay the council for their seat on the journey.
The Nicaraguan workforce is among 60,000 seasonal farms and other temporary workers who come to Canada every year – an important pumping to work in the agricultural sector. And the federal government last month allowed the entry of foreign workers, on condition that they must be removed for 14 days. However, travel was delayed due to the closure of visa offices in foreign countries and commercial flights became rare.
When the Honey Board began checking flights, CEO Rod Scarlett arrived in Canada’s world affairs. “We haven’t been involved in this before, so I want to make sure we cover our base,” he said. We also ask, “Do you need anyone?” “The answer is yes. About 40 Canadians are expected to take the same plane.
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“[The Canadian Honey Council] “I coordinated directly with the Canadian embassy in Managua about the arrangements and the provision of seats for Canadians who want to return to Canada,” said Christina Dodds, a spokeswoman for global affairs, in an email.
Mr. Ash flew to Canada in February, before the epidemic closed most of the economic activities. This is about half of the workers who usually arrive at this time of year. (He tried to travel with several other men in the past few weeks, but was twice rejected at Managua airport because of the rapid expansion of border controls.)
Ash trees run thousands of colonies, also known as nests. Each colony can contain 80,000 bees. Several thousand Mr. Ashe colonies were already in the Okanagan Valley, where they had winter in hot weather. Beekeepers will soon need to transport insects in trailers – 700 colonies per load – to apple or cherry orchards that need cross-pollination to produce fruit.
“The cherry farmers who work with us in SM. Are very nervous,” Mr. Ash said. “They want to pollinate their cherries.”
Watching the temperature throughout the night and during the day, Mr. Ash suspected that he would soon also need to relocate 8,000 colonies from the indoor temperature control facility in Gilbert Plains, Mann, outside, where they would search for pollen and nectar that would feed the nest and form the basis of honey. The vaginal willow tree begins to grow in the prairie province. Time is of the essence.
Federal Agriculture Minister Marie Claude Bibo told the Globe and Mail newspaper that what he understood was that about 1,000 temporary foreign workers had arrived to work in the agricultural sector last week, with 3,000 to 4,000 expected to arrive this week.
“This will obviously be slower than usual, but we are still going,” said Bebo. We expect a shortage. [in temporary foreign workers]. It is still difficult to determine the amount. Will 70 percent come? Is it 80 percent? Hard to say. “
Bebo encouraged Canadians not working to raise their hands for the much needed agricultural work, but Mr Scarlett says that managing a bee colony requires technologies that evolve with expertise. Workers should be able to identify the queen between tens of thousands of working bees and hundreds of males, known as drones; if the queen does not lay eggs on record, it will be killed and replaced.
Workers must have sharp eyes to detect mite attacks that can destroy the hive, and they must feed enough bees from nectar and bake pollen to prevent starvation. Workers who wear a jacket and headscarf but often work with their bare hands, must be ready for bites dozens of times a day (experienced beekeepers build up immunity to toxins).
According to the Honey Council, there are about 10,000 beekeepers who manage a total of 725,000 honey bee colonies from coast to coast. While some hives are managed by fans, most of them are run by commercial beekeepers. “The biggest concern for business operations is business,” said Mr. Scarlett.
Workers and Canadians will be contained on chartered planes that arrive on Monday at a temperature before boarding and must wear masks during the flight to protect from the possible spread of the virus.
“We are delighted that two things can be done simultaneously,” said Mr. Scarlett. The world is messy now. It is great to give Canadians a chance to go home. “
Report by Tafia Grant
Now it is recommended to wear face masks in crowded public places such as grocery stores and pharmacies, and pay attention to how the three masks recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention work. Written instructions are available at tgam.ca/masks
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