Indiana Honey Production Down 23% In 2018

Hoosier honey bees produced markedly less honey last year.

Public domain photo.

(Dearborn County, Ind.) - Hoosier honey bees are producing hundreds of thousands of pounds of honey, despite the important insects facing more hardships.

Honey production in Indiana for 2018 was 322,000 pounds statewide. While that is still a lot of the sweet, sticky stuff, the state’s honey harvest was down 23 percent from 2017’s honey production, according to a May 17 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The reduction in honey harvested comes despite prices rising 14-cents per pound in 2018, up to $3.75 per pound. The total value of Hoosier honey production totaled $1.21 million.

“There is a ton of interest in bees and honey in our area,” said John Hawley, Agriculture & Natural Resources/Community Development Educator for Dearborn County’s Purdue University Extension Office.

Indiana has about 7,000 honey producing colonies. Each colony produced an average of 46 pounds in 2018, compared to 52 pounds in 2017.

Nationally, honey production in 2018 from producers with five or more colonies totaled 152 million pounds, up two percent from 2017, according to the USDA. There were 2.80 million colonies producing honey in 2018, up four percent from 2017. Yield per colony averaged 54.4 pounds, down two percent from the 55.5 pounds in 2017.

Not only are honey bees needed for their signature product, but they are critical to the pollination of many food crops.

The National Honey Board says bees, and thus American beekeepers, today must overcome many challenges, including extreme weather conditions, habitat loss, encounters with pesticides, pathogens, and parasites to keep their colonies healthy.

Last month, the NHB announced nearly $350,000 in new bee research funding. The board says that the more information beekeepers have, the better they can care for their hives and help preserve bees.

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