Business

Iowa honey production, value fall in 2018: Significant bee loss due to disease, weather

Bees move on a frame in South Amana. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Bees move on a frame in South Amana. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Iowa honey production and the value of the crop fell last year from 2017 due to bee-killing insects and inclement weather.

Honey production from producers with five or more colonies in Iowa totaled 1.86 million pounds in 2018, down 8 percent from 2.03 million pounds produced in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The state’s 2018 honey crop was valued at $4.38 million, down 5 percent from the previous year’s $4.59 million. The average price per pound for all marketing channels in Iowa was $2.35, which was up 9 cents from 2017.

Prices were based on retail sales by producers and sales to private processors and cooperatives.

The number of honey-producing colonies in Iowa rose from 35,000 colonies in 2017 to 38,000 in 2018.

The figure does not include producers with fewer than five colonies or those who did not harvest honey.

Yield per colony in Iowa averaged 49 pounds last year, down from 58 pounds per colony in 2017. Iowa remains ranked 18th nationally in honey production, unchanged from 2017.

Roy Kraft, president of the Iowa Honey Producers Association, said a series of events in the fall of 2018 had an impact on bees receiving the proper nutrition going into the winter months.

“We got the honey off, and then there was a cold snap,” Kraft said. “We didn’t get a chance to get mite treatments completed in a proper time, including a lot of the bigger beekeepers, and the mites were not killed.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“We had a huge winter loss. some places as much as 80, 90 or 100 percent. Other areas saw losses of 20 percent or 30 percent.”

Kraft said the cooler-than-normal weather so far this spring has been a concern for beekeepers.

“We don’t need any more of these 30-degree temperatures like we get in March and April,” he said. “That is really raising havoc with everyone trying to split hives as early as possible to regain numbers.”

On Dec. 15, 2018, producer honey stocks in Iowa, excluding stocks under government loan programs, were 1.01 million pounds, a 3 percent decrease from 2017.

Honey production from producers with five or more colonies nationwide totaled 152 million pounds in 2018 — up 2 percent from 2017. The number of honey-producing colonies rose 4 percent to 2.80 million in 2018.

Yield per colony averaged 54.4 pounds, down 2 percent from the 55.5 pounds in 2017.

North Dakota was the top honey-producing state with 530,000 colonies in 2018, up from 455,000 in 2017. California was second with 335,000 colonies last year, unchanged from 2017.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.