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Madison – Among the many statistics that the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and its state field offices collect and publicize is what growers pay for importing honeybees to pollinate their berry, fruit, and vegetable crops.

Those statistics are gathered in seven regions across the United States. The region in which Wisconsin is included consists of 17 states in the northern half of the country east of the Rocky Mountains. Neighboring states in that region include Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa but not Minnesota.

For 2016, NASS reports that the total value of pollination (income for the providers of honeybees) for crops in that 17-state region was $18.5 million. This was two percent less than the cost in 2015.

Berry crop statistics

Blueberries accounted for the highest value of pollination for any crop within the region for 2016. The $5.733 million was paid for 65,000 bee colonies serving 37,500 acres at an average cost of $147 per acre or $88.20 per colony. Those numbers, however, were down significantly from the $8.050 million value for pollinating 44,900 acres with 85,000 colonies at a cost of $167 per acre or $94.70 per colony in 2015.

Although no state by state breakout is given in the statistical report, there's no doubt that Wisconsin accounted for a large portion of the $5.141 million pollination value for cranberries in 2016. This involved 30,300 acres with 66,000 colonies at average costs of $167 per acre and $77.90 per colony. In 2015, the numbers were a value of $5.076 million, 30,800 acres, 72,000 colonies, $166 per acre, and $70.50 per colony.

Fruit tree numbers

With a cost of pollination of $3.215 million in 2016, apple trees followed in the statistical rankings for value. For the year, 83,400 acres were served with 46,000 colonies at costs of $33 per acre and $69.90 per colony. Those were increases from the 2015 totals of $2.261 million, 78,300 acres, 35,000 colonies, $28.30 per acre, and $64.60 per colony.

The cost of pollination for cherries was reported as $825,000 on 26,600 acres by 15,000 colonies at average costs of $21.90 per acre and $55 per colony. For 2015, the statistics for cherries were a value of $906,000 with 19,000 colonies on 28,700 acres at costs of $30.70 per acre and $47.70 per colony.

For peaches, data was reported for 2016 but not for 2015. The report noted that in the past the numbers for peaches were included with those for other tree fruits. For 2015, when peaches were included in the category, the numbers were a $129,000 cost of pollination on 3,300 acres with 2,400 at costs of $29.70 per acre and $55 per colony.

For 2016, the numbers for peaches were $129,000 for the cost of pollination on 2,150 acres by 2,200 colonies at values of $33.90 per acre and $58.50 per colony.

Watermelons had a $289,000 value of pollination in 2016 for the suppliers of 3,700 colonies of honeybees to serve 5,600 acres at average costs of $40.40 per acre and $78.10 per colony. For 2015, the numbers for watermelon pollination were a value of $285,000 on 4,850 acres with 3,900 colonies at average costs of $51.20 per acre and $73 per colony.

Vegetable pollination

In the vegetable category for 2016, cucumbers had the top pollination value of $941,000 with 15,000 colonies serving 29,100 acres at average costs of $29.40 per acre and $62.70 per colony. Those were increases from the $763,000 value on 28,800 acres with 12,000 colonies in 2015. The 2015 costs were $28.30 per acre and $63.60 per colony.

Pumpkins followed with an $845,000 value in 2016 on 11,200 acres with 11,000 colonies at costs of $32.40 per acre and $76.80 per colony. The value was up from $575,000 in 2015, when 11,500 acres were served with 7,500 colonies at average costs of $35.40 per acre and $76.60 per colony.

Squash is only other identified crop in the vegetable category. Its 2016 numbers were a pollination value of $556,000 on 9,400 acres served with 7,500 colonies at cost of $32.30 per acre and $74.10 per colony. In 2015, the value of pollination was $265,000 on 8,500 acres with 4,600 colonies at average costs of $27 per acre and $57.50 per colony.

In an “all other” category for crops being pollination in the region, the NASS report indicated a 2016 value of $873,000 on 7,100 acres with 17,500 colonies at average costs of $31 per acre and $49.90 per colony. Those were major changes from the $461,000 cost of pollination in 2015 on 4,150 acres with 7,000 colonies on average costs of $46.80 per acre and $65.80 per colony.

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