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Facing challenges, honeybees’ production has dropped in the U.S.

Pramod Acharya,
Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting
Honey production is on the decline in the U.S. thanks to challenges posed by parasites, pesticides and more.

Honey production is on the decline in the U.S. 

A honeybee colony in the U.S. produced an average of 56 pounds of honey in 2019, down from an average of 80 pounds since 1995, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. 

Experts and beekeepers have worried the widespread use of pesticides and the changing climate have contributed to decreased productivity, according to the USDA.

For example, dicamba that drifted off its intended target has led to hive losses, according to beekeepers.

USDA’s research also said that pesticide exposure could affect aspects of honeybee behavior, such as foraging for pollen and feeding. 

Honey yields depend on local climate conditions and vary across different geographic regions, according to the USDA's Economic Research Service. The USDA’s 2019 national honey report shows states with heavy rainfall, drought and a lack of nectar from wildflowers had lower yields.  

The average amount of honey colonies have produced has trended down in the past 25 years.

But, since 1995, the amount of honey produced per colony has dropped in 33 states. This includes North Dakota, South Dakota and California, the top three honey-producing states last year. 

North Dakota’s colonies produced an average of 108 pounds of honey in 1995. The figure was 65 pounds on average last year.