Electron-beam irradiation is proving to be a tool in the protection of the critical bee keeping industry. Protection against disease and easily transferrable pathogens are serious issues in the apiculture industry.

At present, bee diseases are having a devastating impact on local businesses and the economy as a whole. Iotron Industries Inc. has been servicing the beekeeping industry since the late 90s, providing electron-beam sterilization of hives and other apiculture equipment.

Harnessing electricity as its power source, the green form of irradiation treatment provided by Iotron is proven effective for eliminating destructive pathogens and disease from comb, pollen and wax. Irradiation has a fast turnaround time and competitive pricing to other methods for fighting bee diseases.

Tino Pereira, president and CEO of Iotron Industries, said, "With the increased number of foreign product imports and the challenges to sustain current bee populations, risks of disease to the industry become precarious as pathogens are spread quickly and easily between bees and their hives. During the winter months, beekeepers have the opportunity to sterilize hives to ensure clean equipment is ready for their colonies in early spring."

Diseases that affect bee colonies will dramatically impact agriculture in that area. In British Columbia alone, where Iotron has its international headquarters, pollination is responsible for $160 million in agricultural production. With this in mind, it is easy to see the impact a disease outbreak could have on not just the local, but the national economy. Iotron is looking to increase awareness of electron-beam irradiation within the agriculture and apiculture industries.

The apiculture industry is worth a staggering $750 million to the Canadian economy and $14 billion to the U.S. economy, with 88 percent of plants dependent on pollination for propagation.

The expected bee mortality rate over the winter period fluctuates around 15 percent; however, factors such as disease can see this number dramatically peak. Going into the winter months, beekeepers look to a variety of options to protect themselves from risk in order to have a healthy colony come early spring.