It’s a multi-million dollar industry in Iowa, but the beekeeping business is being stung by several factors this year. Only about fifty honey producers are licensed, but nearly a thousand more hobbyists and part-time producers keep bees and sell the honey. They try to create queens that are disease-resistant and lay lots of eggs. A well-bred queen can bring hundreds of dollars, though bacteria and tiny mites are cutting deeply into productivity of honeybees. And the state ag department has cut funding for the newsletter, “The Buzz.” But the state’s hives will still produce nearly three million pounds of honey this year.The monthly newsletter for honey producers published its last edition in July. “The Buzz” is canceled because of cutbacks at the state agriculture department. State Apiarist Bob Cox explains producers are striking back against the parasites, by working to breed better bees Local breeders hope to develop insects suited to the climate and resistant to parasites. In fact, some Iowa beekeepers are forsaking honey production to become high-stakes breeders.He says larvae are moved to hives lacking a queen, which will induce the colony to raise them as queens. They’re sold, shipped in the mail, and can bring up to several hundred dollars. Beekeepers have been on the decline, but the state still has about a thousand of them, producing about three million pounds of honey a year.
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