The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
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U.S. Honey Crops and Markets

U.S Honey Crops and Markets – October 2015

- October 1, 2015 - - (excerpt)

Late honey crops in the East Central and West Central areas have helped rescue the season for beekeepers in several states. Over much of the Midwest a rainy spring and early summer had lowered honey crop expectations. Nevertheless, the weather turned around in time for beekeepers in several of these states to produce fair to good honey crops. However, total yield is down in the Dakotas due to cool, rainy weather followed by smoky conditions caused by western and Canadian wildfires. Beekeepers in Minnesota and Wisconsin felt that their seasons were shaping up to be good, despite earlier worries about cool, rainy conditions.
In the Northeast honey crops had been only fair, but beekeepers were hoping for good late goldenrod, knotwood and other wildflower honey crops. Mideastern honey crops have been reported to be average to good, but honey crops in the Southeast and Southwest are down again. Intermountain honey crops look like they will be better than last season, but in the West production will be down again.

Demand for honey over most of the country remains good, but packers are buying more foreign honey at cheaper prices and this has impacted large-lot sales of honey, according to some of our reporters.

NORTHEAST—Honey flow reports have been mixed, with some beekeepers reporting that strong colonies made fair to good honey crops from black locust, clover and basswood, but weaker divides or new colonies started from packages were struggling to make enough honey to overwinter. At times rainy weather confined colonies for days at a time and this cut down on foraging time significantly. Late summer weather had been better and bees were starting to make honey again from buckwheat, alfalfa, and purple loosestrife. Goldenrod and aster were also expected to start blooming soon and should provide good honey flows if the weather cooperates. New colonies will need this late honey for overwintering, but stronger colonies could make significant amounts of surplus honey. Some beekeepers were trying to decide whether to treat now for mites and miss these late flows or to wait until they were over before they started their treatments. New crop honey is selling very well at farmers’ markets, fairs and roadside stands.

MIDEAST—Beekeepers were finishing their extracting, treating for mites and hoping for some late winter stores from purple loosestrife, goldenrod, wingstem, smartweed and asters. Spring and summer honey crops were average to good over much of this area, depending on the weather. In some cases, beekeepers extracted excellent honey crops, but in other cases reporters complained that stormy weather shortened their main flows. Some beekeepers were able to secure a nice surplus from sourwood in the mountains. Others had obtained surplus honey earlier in the season from sumac, black locust, clover, thistle or basswood. Small hive beetles were a problem for beekeepers in some parts of the area.
Beekeepers were busy selling their honey at local fairs, festivals, farmers’ market and roadside stands. Demand has been very good.

SOUTHEAST—Beekeepers in Florida were hoping for a good Brazilian pepper flow if the weather cooperates. As this region enters the tropical storm and hurricane season, beekeepers are hoping that no severe storms or hurricanes will disrupt foraging or cause severe flooding. Elsewhere in the Southeast colonies are working wildflowers such as goldenrod and aster. In late summer, colonies were able to secure some additional surplus from cotton and soybeans where the weather cooperated. Some states such as Mississippi and Alabama were on the dry side and needed some fall rains to help replenish ground moisture and keep plants blooming. Privet hedge and sumac provided the best flows this season in Alabama, but blackberry and tulip-poplar were their biggest disappointments. In Florida, beekeepers were generally disappointed with this season’s honey crops due to poor weather.

Local sales and small-lot wholesale trading continue to be brisk, but large-lot sales have declined due to more availability of cheaper imported honey. A number of commercial colonies are beginning to return to Southeastern states for the winter months.

SOUTHWEST—Most honey flows are over for the season with the exception of scattered goldenrod, aster and assorted wildflowers. The main spring flows were curtailed by the rainy weather in a number of states. On the other hand, New Mexico and Arizona had to contend with drought and very hot temperatures. Beekeepers have been finishing their extracting and are selling their new crop honey. Most sales reports have been positive with a strong demand for locally produced and varietal honey. Migratory beekeepers are returning their colonies to this area for overwintering and early nuc making in 2016. Some reporters said there has been a shortage of local colonies over the last few years for pollination. However, new beekeeper enthusiasm continues to be strong judging by attendance at local and state beekeeper meetings.

EAST CENTRAL—Honey crop reports were mixed, but many reporters said that excessive rain during main honey flows hurt their yields. This was not the case everywhere, however. Some Wisconsin beekeepers did have good honey flows from clover, alfalfa and basswood. In some cases, beekeepers even complained about a lack of rain. Overwintered colonies were able to make honey crops, but divides, packages or nucs were doing well just to make enough honey to overwinter on. Some honey was made from soybeans where bees had long enough periods of clear, sunny weather. Colony populations were good, but bees generally did not have enough foraging weather due to rainy conditions. Beekeepers in locations which suffered from too much rain earlier in the season were hoping that  ….