backyard beekeeping, manuka honey, honeybee crisis

As more and more states start to report their 2018 production numbers, there is a very clear trend that honey production is far lower than usual. Wisconsin is yet another state reporting declining production, but the situation is far more serious than just this past year. This is now the third straight year where production has declined, a trend local beekeepers are hoping they can reverse.

Honey Production Way Down

Honey production was not just down in Wisconsin, it was significantly down, as in 20 percent less production for the 2017-18 season than the year before. While not all states are having such a drastic problem, this is something we are seeing not only here in the United States but also throughout the entire world. Like most other states, the common theme expressed by local beekeepers is the challenge of keeping their honeybee colonies healthy.

One of the more notable beekeepers in Wisconsin is Kent Pegorsch. He has been working with bees for more than four decades, so he has pretty much seen everything the industry can throw at you. However, now, even he has a sense of urgency when discussing the future of beekeeping and the honey industry. On the decline in production, he stated, “I think more of the problem with the beekeeping production numbers are just keeping the bees healthy, and that’s a challenge that we face every year now.” According to Pegorsch, the largest challenge is varroa mites. Of course, there are also problems with pesticides shortening the lifespan of bees.

Another local beekeeper, Ethan Hogan, stated the problems for some beekeepers go well beyond the norm. He stated, “A lot of us have lost 50 percent some years of all of our colonies, and that really sets back the bee population and the honey production.”

As most successful business owners do, both men are learning to adjust to the current conditions to “get through” the current crisis. They are also working with their fellow beekeepers throughout the state to address the issue. Hogan stated, “It’s so critical for all of us to work together. We always get it done but it’s always a team effort, and Wisconsin’s great about that.”

Something else the Wisconsin beekeepers were challenged with last year was a colder than usual spring. This is something that seems to be a problem throughout the country, as most of April and May are seeing colder temperatures as well as more rain than usual. Every extra day of bad weather makes the honey production season one day shorter and unfortunately, there is just nothing they can do about that.

Source: WBAY Action News 2

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