The summer drought has had a devastating effect on crops, but honey producers haven’t felt the sting of the dry weather like corn and soybean growers. State Apiarist,Andy Joseph, says their good fortune began in the spring when the white sweet clover began to bloom.
“It was like someone opened a faucet and just started pouring nectar into our hives. It’s been a great season, and I hate to say it too loud because so many people are having failing crops and struggling — but hot and dry weather equals a really good year for bee keepers generally,” according to Joseph.
In an average year, a colony or hive of bees produces around 60 pounds of honey or about a 5-gallon bucketful. This year he’s guessing beekeepers will harvest and average of 80 to 90 pounds. Not all the bee news is good as he says producers are still having problems with “colony collapse disorder,” a relatively new phenomenon in which bees simply disappear and there’s no honey in the hive.
“We still have the same pests and parasites and diseases and viruses and on and on, this whole host of issues and maladies. For the larger issues, colony collapse disorder and some of these bigger problems we’re just trying to hold out and wait for answers from researchers, maybe some suggestions, things we can do to limit it, and in the meantime just keep going as strong as we can,” Joseph says.
To find out more about the industry in Iowa, go to the Iowa Department of Agriculture’s website at: www.iowagriculture.gov