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Weather causes honey production decline

Posted at 5:50 PM, Sep 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-18 18:50:20-04

The United States Department of Agriculture says US honey production is down and that's causing a price hike.

In Germantown, Indian Summer Honey Farm's Peter Ellis works with his crew cleaning out hive boxes. The 30-year-old farm as more than 3,500 hives. 

Ellis says the spring/summer crop was a bumper crop, but the summer/fall crop wasn't as sweet. 

"We ran into more of a drought, end of July most of August, and we got hit with a lot of rain here in September," said Ellis. 

Findings by theNational Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, and USDA say honey production in 2017 from producers with five or more colonies totaled 148 million pounds, that's down 9 percent from 2016.

United States honey during 2017 stand at 215.6 cents per pound, which is up 2 percent from 211.9 cents per pound in 2016. These prices are sold through cooperatives, private, and retail avenues. 

Ellis says the honey industry does ebb and flow sometimes due to the weather. Indian Summer sells to large clients like Sprecher Brewery as well as to the public. The farm has a gift shop and gives tours of the facility. 

Large farms are large enough, says Ellis, will try not to pass any financial shortcomings to their customers. 

"We do see honey spikes here and there," said Ellis. "We've been at the same price for about four or five years now." 

Ellis says the early bumper crop should cover any failings with future crops this season. He puts faith in that statement because of the more than 10 years experience he has will bee farming.

Ellis says smaller honey operations, like hobbyists, are in danger of losing entire bee crops currently.  If they can't plan accordingly with the harsh weather conditions or have proper knowledge about their farm's location, things can end badly. 

"There's a lot of hobbyist out there trying to do their part. The best way for a hobbyist is just to find a beekeeper that's willing to help them or answer them with any questions they may have," said Ellis.