Nova Scotia plans to boost both its bee population and its fruit growers' yields through a new pollination expansion program.
The province on Thursday pledged $450,000 over three years for the program, which will go to help beekeepers buy more bees and upgrade equipment to "accommodate and keep (the bees) healthy."
The funding will also support inspection services and workshops for new beekeepers, the province said.
"Producers of blueberries, apples, grapes, cranberries and other crops in the province can only increase their yields if they have access to sufficient numbers of bees for pollination," Agriculture Minister John MacDonell said in a release.
"By investing in measures to increase the province's healthy bee population, this program will help both commercial beekeepers and fruit producers to expand their operations."
To get funding through the program, a beekeeper must be a member of the Nova Scotia Commercial Beekeepers Association and have at least 50 colonies available for pollination in 2012.
Any member short of 50 colonies who has provided hives for pollination in 2012, must submit an expansion plan laying out their "timing and resources" to reach 50 colonies or more.
Eligible project costs for this program year must be incurred between May 1 this year and March 1 next year.
Nova Scotia's beekeeping sector produces honey and beeswax valued at about $1.1 million annually, while the bee industry's pollination is valued at about $1.9 million a year.
"Many Nova Scotia wild blueberry producers who want to increase the number of pollination units for their crops, and this program will support Nova Scotia beekeepers in helping to meet that demand," David Sangster, executive director of the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia, said in the province's release.
Program guidelines and application forms are available online.