UNITED STATES As this was written in early July, the eastern two-thirds of the country was still coping with excessive rainy weather at times, especially in the Upper Midwest and the Northeast. Meanwhile, the western one-third of the country continued to suffer from drought and excessive heat. The area affected most continued to be the desert Southwest, but at times dry, hot weather extended into the Northwest as well. Honey flows in the West will definitely be reduced substantially from normal due to the drought. The Upper Midwest continued to receive heavy rainfall, but temperatures had begun to warm. Early clover and alfalfa flows have been affected, but the last half of the season was still a big question mark. Honey flow reports from the Southeast for the last part of the season were better. Unfortunately, beekeepers in the Northeast and parts of the Mideast continued to have problems with excessive rainfall. With another short U.S. honey crop predicted, record high wholesale prices appear to be here to stay for a while, especially if consumer and industrial demand for honey continues to be strong. The U.S. Department of commerce has set the preliminary anti-dumping duty rate on honey imports from China at $2.63 per kilogram, according to a June news release from the Department. In 2012 the government determined that removing tariffs on honey imports from China would likely harm the domestic industry. NORTHEAST—The season was late this year due to excessive rainy, cool weather in many locations. Nevertheless, a number of reporters had still produced fair to good early honey crops from black locust, assorted berries and fruit trees, blueberries, honeysuckle, dogwood, sumac, tulip-poplar and early clover. Later summer flows depended on continued good colony buildup, as well as continued adequate moisture levels for plant growth. And, of course, the big late summer/autumn flows from purple loosestrife, goldenrod, aster, and knotweed are still to come. Colony numbers are generally down throughout this area since many beekeepers lost colonies over last winter that were never restocked due to the rainy, cool spring and lack of replacement bees and queens. In addition, swarming was not as prevalent this spring, so many beekeepers did not catch as many swarms to repopulate deadouts. Beekeepers are anxious to start extracting this year’s honey crop since many of them have been completely sold out for many months now. New crop locally produced honey is in great demand. MIDEAST—Weather conditions had improved for later spring flows, but many beekeepers had not been able to make as many splits or obtain as many package bees as they had originally wanted to replace dead colonies. Weather conditions were finally settling down for the season. Colonies were currently working clover and sourwood, but earlier in the season beekeepers reported honey flows from blackberry, black locust, tulip-poplar, privet, vetch, sumac, persimmon, thistle, huckleberry, tupelo, black gum and gallberry. With local honey supplies depleted, beekeepers really need a good honey crop this season in order to rebuild their honey inventories. Some beekeepers were lucky enough to produce a couple supers of black locust and white Dutch clover honey in between wet spells. Due to the late, wet season, beekeepers were hoping for a longer than normal clover flow that would last well into July. SOUTHEAST—After a disappointing early season and below average orange flows, a number of Florida beekeepers were able to make fair to good crops from gallberry and palmetto. The tupelo flow in the western part of the state was below normal, but along the western coast some nice tallow honey crops were obtained. In Georgia, the season got off to a slow start, but later gallberry and palmetto flows were improved. Cool weather in the mountains delayed or curtailed flows from clover and sourwood. Beekeepers are hoping for improved later flows from soybeans and fall wildflowers. Earlier cool, rainy weather had also hurt spring flows in Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina. In Mississippi, honey flows mentioned included privet hedge, clover, wildflowers and soybeans. One encouraging note expressed by a number of beekeepers this season was the lower colony losses in the Southeast. Beekeepers are also happy about the continued strong market for honey at both the wholesale and retail levels. Interest in hobby beekeeping continues to be strong, as well as the increased awareness and interest in local, natural foods. SOUTHWEST—Erratic weather conditions earlier in the season hurt colony buildup and honey flows. Then, dry, hot weather settled in and many of the remaining prospects dried up. Very hot weather in late June and early July put a lot of stress on both bees and beekeepers. In Texas beekeepers reported scattered flows from irrigated cotton, wildflowers, desert flowers, and some tree sources. In parts of Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma beekeepers reported flows from wildflowers, clover and alfalfa. In addition, beekeepers in areas with large acreages of soybeans were also hoping for a late flow from this source. Several destructive storms passed through Oklahoma and northern Texas in June causing widespread damage to homes and crops. Along the Gulf Coast beekeepers had obtained fair to good flows from tallow trees. Demand for honey remains excellent at both the wholesale and retail levels. Unfortunately, early reports suggest that this will be another below average year for honey crops due to poor weather conditions. Colonies have generally been in fair to good condition, but beekeepers have reported heavier mite or beetle loads in some locations. EAST CENTRAL—After suffering through a winter of heavy colony losses followed by a cool, wet spring, colonies finally began to make honey in May and June. Periods of clear warm weather allowed fair to good buildup from dandelion and wild mustard. However, black locust flow reports were mixed due to rain occurring during the bloom in a number of instances. Where beekeepers lucked out and had no rain, reports of two or more supers were made from this source. Then, immediately after this flow, yellow sweet clover, white Dutch clover, alfalfa and basswood began to bloom during June and early July. Some of these flows were later than normal due to the cool spring, but beekeepers hoped that they would last longer into the summer than normal due to the abundant moisture and mild temperatures. Colonies that were able to build up bee populations right before these flows are making quite a bit of honey, but a number of divides and packages were simply too weak to make any surplus yet. Increased acreage of corn and soybeans and less pasture land continues to erode available bee pasture. Very few beekeepers had much honey to sell yet, but there remains an excellent demand for honey at both the wholesale and retail levels. WEST CENTRAL—Sunshine and warmer weather finally came to the southern half of this area in mid-June, but beekeepers in the Upper Midwest were still encountering rainy, cool conditions. Beekeepers over much of this area battled cool, rainy conditions throughout the spring season as well. In a number of cases commercial beekeepers had still been feeding colonies to prevent loss of brood production or possible starvation. With excellent soil moisture conditions over much of the area, beekeepers still hoped to produce some nice late clover and alfalfa honey crops. However, the southern parts of this area missed part of their normal clover and alfalfa flows due to rainy conditions. Many locations had abundant spring wildflower blooms that lasted longer than normal due to the late season. Honey crop reports are a mixed bag at this point due to earlier unsettled weather. Those locations that had sufficient foraging days and strong bee populations were producing some nice honey crops, but many other beekeepers were frustrated by the season so far. Colonies are generally healthy, but due to the large winter losses, many divides or colonies started from nucs or packages were still in a build-up mode and could not produce surplus honey yet. By next month, we should have a better idea about how the honey crops materialized over much of this large honey production area. A number of beekeepers continue to lament the loss of bee pasture in their states to continually increasing corn and soybean acreage. In the meantime, beekeepers indicated a continuing strong market for honey at both the wholesale and retail levels. Honey remains in short supply and packer inventories are getting very low in some cases. INTERMOUNTAIN—Dry, hot weather was becoming a major concern among beekeepers by late June due to the prolonged heat wave encompassing a number of states. Ironically, cool weather was a problem earlier in the spring in some of these same states. Although some locations still have adequate soil moisture, other parts of this area remain in a drought situation and this will hurt honey plant growth. Beekeepers are still hoping for good flows from clover, alfalfa and knapweed if the weather cooperates. Demand for honey at both the wholesale and retail levels remains excellent, but little unsold honey remains available and no new crop honey was available yet. WEST—The drought continues to be a major problem for beekeepers in California, especially in the southern part of the state where the heat wave was severe. Honey crops are down substantially again. Colonies are generally healthy, but will continue to need feed since flows have been so poor. Most pollination work for the season is winding down. Some beekeepers moved to irrigated locations on cotton and alfalfa, but they were few and far between. A number of beekeepers have moved their colonies to out-of-state locations to build up. With additional moisture, wildflowers such as sage, buckwheat and star thistle could still produce some honey, but it is getting late. Commercial beekeepers are mainly concerned at this time of year with rebuilding their colonies for the 2014 almond pollination season. Oregon honey crops were impacted by the drought, but we had no good reports yet on the total honey crop. In Washington, soil moisture and honey crop reports were better. Beekeepers mentioned honey flows from sweet clover, snowberry and knapweed. The demand for honey at both the wholesale and retail levels remains good, but domestic honey continues to be in short supply. Wholesale prices are reaching record levels, but many beekeepers will not be able to take advantage of these better prices due to the short crop.
Posted by eBeeHoney on 8/31/2013 to News