Temperature fluctuations this winter and early spring have lead to significant losses for some local bee keepers.

To help replenish their populations, bee keepers like Cherie Andrews, co-owner of Chinook Honey Company in Okotoks, are having to import hives from New Zealand and Australia.

Andrews says there's a reason as to why they ship hives in from the other side of the globe.

"Those two countries are the only ones that are pretty nearly free of diseases, every other country does have diseased bees so to minimize any risk of spreading disease that's why the protocol is to bring them from so far. You can imagine the cost of bringing in bees by the pound from New Zealand."

There's a variety of different annuals and perennials like bee balm and flowers from the daisy family that can help encourage bee populations.

Andrews says bees also take interest in certain shrubs.

"Shrubs are something that are fairly low maintenance in your garden, we've been pretty amazed at how our bees have been making use of sea buckthorn, it's a really hardy shrub that grows very well in this area. Those shrubs, dogwoods are really nice, and lilacs of course," she says, "Flowering shrubs are something that's pretty easy to grow."

She adds their remaining bees are busy taking advantage of dandelions for their first food of the season.

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