(09/25/20) DERIDDER, La. — Although Hurricane Laura damage estimates continue to mount, some beekeepers in southwest Louisiana are feeling lucky.
Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter agent in Beauregard Parish, provides a mixed report of how the storm affected the hives in his area.
“Many of us in Louisiana will remember August 27, 2020, as a day of infamy because Laura made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane,” he said. “We experienced the power outage at approximately 1 a.m., and then the eye of Laura at about 5 a.m.”
When it was safe to go out, Hawkins said, he saw how the landscape was devastated. Checking his own beehives, he found them to be in good shape because a fence buffered the winds of Laura.
“I contacted beekeepers through the ‘Beemail’ list and through various beekeeping pages on Facebook to ask about hive losses due to Laura’s visit,” he said.
Some beekeepers like Tim Adam, of Colfax, reported good news, Hawkins said.
“I only have six hives, and all weathered the storm fine,” Adam said. “I have recovered two feral hives due to the storm that were in hollow limbs and tree trunks.”
Kline Duplechain, of DeRidder also had a positive story.
“I was amazed mine survived,” he said. “The winds from Laura was something I had never experienced before, and I was sure the hive would be blown over and destroyed. But I checked it as I walked around, amazed at the damage, and the bees were coming and going like nothing happened.”
Nola Ducote, of Sulphur, reported that out of his 25 hives, all survived — even with pine trees falling over them.
“One four-box nuc was flipped over on the side, but the straps kept it together,” Ducote said. “Winds were well over 100 miles per hour from the northeast, then from the southwest. The eyewall took one hour to pass over us. It was a very scary night.”
So far, nine beekeepers have reported the loss of 31 hives and an estimated loss of $10,912, Hawkins said.
“These numbers seem low, so beekeepers are encouraged to report their losses,” he said.
Justin Landrum, of Anacoco, reported, “I had a huge red oak land on 17 hives. Thirteen of the hives were a total loss. Four of them were salvaged, but I had to replace a lot of the wood. It would not have been so bad, but the road was shut down for four days because of down power lines.”
“Justin’s experience with Laura seems representative of the overall experience that many people had with a strong hurricane, and includes downed trees, blocked roads and power outages,” Hawkins said.
The Farm Service Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP), an assistance program to help beekeepers.
“ELAP provides financial assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish for losses due to disease, certain adverse weather events or loss conditions, including blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the agriculture secretary,” Hawkins said.
ELAP assistance is provided for losses not covered by other disaster-assistance programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, such as losses not covered by the Livestock Forage Disaster Program and the Livestock Indemnity Program.
Hawkins said beekeepers should contact their local office of the USDA FSA to sign up for this assistance.
If you want to contact Beehive Buzz, please send your questions and pictures to Hawkins at 337-463-7006 or email@example.com.
Also, you can get on his “Beemail” email list by emailing your request to the address above.
Hurricane Laura caused this oak to fall on a beeyard and to
cause heavy damage. Photo by Justin Landrum