U.S. Honey Crops and Markets

 U.S Honey Crops and Markets - January 2015


Colonies continued to stream into California from all over the country for the big almond pollination season starting at the end of this month. Most reporters quoted $170 to $180 for colonies with eight frames of brood, with bonuses for stronger hives. Heavy rains in December helped soil moisture in this drought-stricken state, which in turn should also help spring honey flows. The large reduction in fuel prices has been a real godsend to migratory beekeepers.

Early winter storms caught beekeepers on the Eastern Seaboard by surprise. Where stores are adequate, no harm was done, but in many cases beekeepers were still feeding colonies that were light on winter stores. This could lead to higher winter losses. The Upper Midwest also received an early taste of winter, but elsewhere in the country snow has not been as heavy as last season. In some cases rainfall came instead where temperatures were milder than normal.

Beekeepers were beginning to gear up for the season in the South. Demand for package bees, nucs and queens is expected to be very heavy again this spring. Colonies are generally in good condition and beekeepers are hoping that extreme cold weather will stay away. This is especially important as the first maples and wildflowers begin blooming and colonies begin to brood up.

As we have indicated in the past, honey inventories remain low. This has continued to keep both the wholesale and retail markets for honey strong.

NORTHEAST—Beekeepers continue to report harsh winter weather. Cold weather has often been accompanied by snow or rain. Many reporters have not been able to check their colonies, but some hope to start winter feeding with sugar fondants or winter sugar patties. This will be switched to syrup and pollen subs later in the winter or early spring. Orders are starting to be made for package bees, nucs or queens, although many beekeepers do not know how many colonies they will lose until spring. A number of states are planning beekeeping short courses for this late winter or early spring.
Holiday sales of remaining stocks of honey were excellent, but little honey remains unsold at this point.

MIDEAST—Similar reports of extreme cold weather accompanied by snow or rain also have been coming from our reporters in this area. Unfortunately, a number of colonies also went into winter low on stores, so will need additional feed before spring. Beekeepers are hoping for an early spring, so their losses will not be extremely high. Some reporters were already suggesting that package bees and queens would be in short supply this spring. Most stocks of locally produced honey have been sold out for quite some time.

SOUTHEAST—November weather was colder than normal, but December temps were about normal for the month. Some rain has helped moisture conditions. Beekeepers have continued to feed colonies during warmer periods. Stormy weather in late December produced some heavy rains, winds and even a tornado or two. Mississippi was especially hard hit. Believe it or not, spring bee work is beginning in some locations as package bee and queen producers gear up for production and commercial beekeepers start preparing for making splits or moving colonies out of state for pollination rentals.

Honey demand and prices have continued to be quite good in this area, but little honey remains for sale at this late date. Brazilian pepper in Florida was the last significant honey flow reported and most of that honey sold quickly, even though it is generally regarded as a less desirable honey than those honeys produced earlier in the year.

SOUTHWEST—Colonies are wintering well, although at times cold or stormy weather has been reported. The rain and snow are welcome to replenish ground moisture in preparation for spring wildflower growth. Beekeepers are continuing to feed colonies both sugar and pollen subs in preparation for making early spring splits or transporting colonies to almond pollination in California. Demand for bees for almond pollination remains excellent, and reduced fuel prices have cut transportation costs significantly. Honey demand also remains very strong in this area, but most stocks of unsold honey are long gone. Beekeepers reported very good holiday sales via shops and the Internet.

EAST CENTRAL—After a cold, sometimes snowy or rainy November, December weather was milder. Migratory beekeepers had long since moved their bees to the South or California, but other beekeepers were still trying to feed colonies on warmer days with sugar patties or candy boards. Although it was too early for winter colony loss reports, many beekeepers had already sent in their orders for early package bees, nucs and queens. By late January or early February, beekeepers should have a better idea on how their apiaries are overwintering. Honey supplies remain low with prices at both the wholesale and retail levels reaching record levels in some locations. Some packers have been scrambling to find sufficient supplies of honey to last until the new crops start coming in 2015.

WEST CENTRAL—The Dakotas did better than most of the other states as far as honey production was concerned. Honey production in Minnesota was generally down, as was production in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. Honey reports from Minnesota seem to have been the worst, but beekeepers elsewhere had very poor crops in some cases due to the cool, wet spring and summer. Meanwhile, wholesale and retail demand for honey continues to skyrocket due to shortages around the globe. Those beekeepers lucky enough to produce a crop have enjoyed record prices at both the wholesale and retail levels.
November was colder than normal, which at times caught beekeepers by surprise who were still preparing colonies for winter or had still not moved their bees to the South or California. Snowfall has been heavy at times  ...