Beehive Buzz: Hive Losses to Hurricane Laura & USDA Assistance


Update: 10-2-2020

Due to new reports of hive losses:

"Since astory on KPLC TV, 'Honeybees survive Hurricane Laura', October 1,2020, more reports of hive losses have come in:

  • Beekeepers affected: 14
  • Hives lost: 2943
  • Value lost: $857,200

The numbers went up dramatically after reports of three commercial beekeepers losing 2800 hives came in. Losses may exceed $1 million as more reports arrive.

Many of us in Louisiana will remember August 27, 2020 as a day of infamy because Laura made landfall as a category 4 hurricane. AHA experienced the power outage at approximately 1:00 AM and then the eye of Laura at about 5:00 AM. When it was safe to go out, citizens saw how the landscape was devastated. AHA checked his own personal hives and found them in good shape because a fence buffered the winds of Laura.

AHA contacted beekeepers through the “beemail” list and through various beekeeping pages Facebook to ask about hive losses due to Laura’s visit. Some beekeepers like Tim reported good news, “I only have 6 hives, and all weathered the storm fine. I have recovered two feral hives due to the storm that were in hollow limbs and tree trunks.”

Kline also had a positive story, “I was amazed mine survived. 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 from Sulphur wrote, “Yep. Out of 25 hives, 25 survived even with pine trees falling over them. One 4 box nuc was flipped over on the side but straps kept it together. Winds [were] well over 100mph from the NE then from the SW. Eye wall took 1 hour to pass over us. It was a very scary night.”

At this writing, nine beekeepers reported the loss of 31 hives and an estimated loss of $10,912. These numbers seem low, so beekeepers are encouraged to report their losses. Also, images of damaged hives are welcome.

Justin of Anacoco reported, “I had a huge red oak landed on 17 hives. 13 of the hives were a total loss. 4 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 4 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.

Finally, the Farm Service Agency (FSA)of the USDA has an assistance program to help beekeepers, Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP):

“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 Secretary. 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 (LFP) and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP).” Contact your 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 Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006 or Also, you can be on the “beemail” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

9/28/2020 2:18:23 PM
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