Texas honey production drops slightly | Agriculture News
Texas honey production declined slightly, along with the number of bee colonies, in 2021, according to an expert from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Molly Keck, AgriLife Extension entomologist and Beekeeping 101 instructor, Bexar County, said winter storm Uri in February and drought conditions in early spring negatively impacted honey production.
Keck said the combination of stressful conditions occurred at a critical time for overwintering bee colonies.
“The winter storm delayed the blooming of the wildflowers and this definitely impacted honey production,” Keck said. “It probably caused bee losses, especially in South Texas, where bees are not acclimated to this kind of freezing cold. But the lack of rain during the winter until the end of April exacerbated the lack of forage availability for bees as the hives became more active.
The United States Department of Agriculture’s annual honey report in March showed that there were 157,000 honey-producing bee colonies statewide in 2020. Texas honey contributed 8, 9 million pounds with a total production value of $ 17 million in the United States, 147.5 million pounds worth over $ 299 million.
Keck said reduced production could mean higher prices for retail honey, but local conditions and the success or failure of production could play into what consumers ultimately pay for locally produced honey.
Interest in beekeeping has increased in recent years, especially due to COVID-19. Interest from hobbyists is on the rise as are most farm-type activities, including gardening and backyard poultry production, Keck said. There is also an interest in beekeeping in order to obtain property tax exemptions for small plots.
Keck said some hobbyists and misfits are reporting better results in honey production and beehive populations this season despite the decline in commercial honey producers. She suspects that restrictions during the height of the pandemic likely gave part-time beekeepers more opportunities to pay attention to their hives, while commercial growers may have had labor issues.
“It was my second best year of honey production yet, despite the winter storm and late flowering,” she said. “I think a lot of the results are due to local conditions – the health of their colony coming out of winter and all the interventions by beekeepers to help their colonies when they need it.”