In a report released from the USDA in March 2021, honey production during 2020 from Louisiana producers with five or more colonies totaled 2.28 million pounds, down 41 percent from 2019. Yield per colony averaged 69 pounds of honey, down 4 percent from 2019. Honey stocks held by producers on December 15, 2020, were 228,000 pounds, down 47 percent from a year earlier. The average price for honey increased from $2.15 per pound in 2019 to $2.42 per pound in 2020. The total value of honey production totaled $5.51 million, down 34 percent from the previous year.
In 2020 as in previous years, weather played a role in honey production when hurricanes Laura and Delta made landfall and moved through western Louisiana. A survey of Louisiana beekeepers reports these losses:
|Estimated $ Loss||$958,845|
Source: Survey of beekeepers by AgCenter
One beekeeper complained about the loss of 21 hives due to mosquito spraying in Calcasieu after Laura, and his losses are included in the tally.
The price per pound for honey in 2020 averaged $2.03 in Louisiana. This price is an increase of $0.04 per pound. Other apiary commodities are included in the table below reported to the USDA Farm Services Agency.
|Commodity||Unit||2020 Projected Price|
|Bees – Five Frame (NUC-nucleus colony – bees and queen)||NUC||163.50|
|Bees – Queens Only||Each||35.00|
*Price in parenthesis is Retail price. Source: Survey of beekeepers by AgCenter
The number of bee hives in 2020 decreased 61%. A decline the number of hives occurred from 54,00 hives in 2019 to 33,00 hives in 2020 according to USDA’s National Statistics Service (NASS)
Beekeepers reported robust cash flow due to the desire for local honey. As citizens become aware of the importance of pollinators in agriculture, some seek to become hobby beekeepers. AgCenter agents refer aspiring apiarists to local bee clubs for classes. The anti-allergenic property of local honey is another reason many consumers state that they purchased local honey.
Attendance to beekeeping events, both local and statewide, was down to due pandemic constraints of 2020.
Another indicator of the growth in beekeeping is the number of social media sites. On Facebook, there are 15 beekeeping pages. Three are statewide, and one of which is the official Facebook page for the Louisiana Beekeepers Association. The remainder of the other pages are outreach efforts of local beekeeping clubs.
Small hive beetles and Varroa mites continue to be pests for commercial beekeepers. Some apiarists are successfully treating with oxalic acid vapor. Sporadic infestations of wax moths occurred. Beekeepers are using IPM to manage bee pests. The USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Bee Breeding and Physiology Laboratory is continuing research bee pests with an emphasis on integrated pest management.
Volunteer beekeepers are providing training in beekeeping through a basic program presented to bee clubs.
Homeowners, utility companies, realtors and others continue to complain about infestations of honeybees in homes and other improved structures. Extension agents with the AgCenter refer these complaints to local beekeepers in effort to rescue the colony and place the bees in productive hives. Again, social media has been a useful tool in apprising beekeepers of bees in need of removal. Anecdotally, beekeepers tend to report successful removal through social media.
A list of beekeepers who remove colonies and collect swarms is maintained by the LSU AgCenter on its website. The list provides contact information such as name and phone number, areas they will cover and is by area of the state. That LSU AgCenter website is: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/environment/insects/bees_wasps/honeybee+removal+and+swarm+collection.htm
In general, the AgSummary includes information on the economic value of honey. Other values of beekeeping include pollination services, the sale of fertilized queen bees, package bees, and hive nuclei (commonly called “hive nucs”), and the sale of wax, propolis, pollen and other hive products.
“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.”