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Madison - Wisconsin's beekeepers with 5 or more colonies increased their colony total in 2016 but the production of honey in them decreased from 2015, according to a recent report by the National Agricultural Statistics Service and its Wisconsin field office.

The report indicated that honeybee colonies were up by 2,000 from 2015 to a total of 54,000 in 2016 but the honey production of 3.348 million pounds was down from the 3.484 million pounds in 2015. The average yield per colony of 62 pounds was down from the 67 pounds in 2015.

As a result of the lower production, Wisconsin slipped to 12th place among the states for honey production. As of December 15, the 1.205 million pounds of honey held by producers in the state was down by 25 percent from a year earlier.

Honey produced in Wisconsin during 2016 was valued at $8.169 million. This was down by 4 percent from the $8.466 million on 2015. The 2016 average price of $2.44 per pound for all of the marketing channels was up by 1 cent from 2015.

National statistics

Counter to what happened in Wisconsin during 2016, honey production in the United States was up by 4 percent to 161.882 million pounds. Colony numbers managed by producers with at least 5 colonies were up by 115,000 to a total of 2.775 million while the average yield per colony was down slightly to 58.3 pounds.

With 485,000 colonies and an average of 78 pounds of honey per colony, North Dakota led the way with a production of 37.83 million pounds in 2016. South Dakota followed with a production of 19.88 million pounds from 280,000 colonies with an average yield of 71 pounds. Montana contributed 12.243 million pounds from 159,000 colonies with an average of 77 pounds per colony.

Although its average yield was only 36 pounds from its 310,000 colonies, California's increase of 35 percent in 2016 to a total of 11.16 million pounds accounted for more than one half of the national increase for the year. Other states reporting an increase in 2016 were Texas and Georgia. Louisiana had the highest average of 86 pounds (down from 99 pounds in 2015) from its 50,000 colonies.

The value of the 2016 honey crop was reported as $335.905 million. This was up from $326.081 million in 2015 and the average price per pound was down slightly to $2.075.

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