Figures from the United States Department of Agriculture indicate that honeybee colony production of honey in 2019 is down considerably compared to what a typical US beehive produced in 1995.
In 2019 a bee colony produced an average of 55.8 pounds of honey, whereas in 1995 a beehive produced 79.5 pounds of honey, according to data released by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) on March 19, 2020.
Bees living in the United States produced 157 million pounds of honey in 2019 and there were 2.81 million bee colonies producing honey. The average amount of honey per colony was 55.8 pounds.
In comparison, bees living in the United States produced 210 million pounds of honey in 1995, and there were 2.65 million bee colonies producing honey. The average amount of honey per colony was 79.5 pounds according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.
There is serious concern in the beekeeping community of beekeepers and experts that decreased productivity is tied in with climate change and the widespread use of pesticides, as well as other stressor factors, according to the USDA.
This unrelated 2:42-minute video by SciShow gives a brief rundown on how bees make honey:
For example, environmental groups warn that the drift of the herbicide dicamba into ecologically valuable areas like prairielands and pollinator habitats, may be endangering many pollinators. In 2017 it polluted 600,000 acres of soybeans in Illinois. Pesticides drifting from their intended target is a factor in hive losses, according to beekeepers.
The amount of honey produced in 2019 was nearly 30% less than was produced in 1995 and that is a worrisome decline.
The USDA also said in its research that pesticide exposure may affect other aspects of honeybee behavior, like feeding and foraging for pollen.
Local climate conditions have a lot to do with honey yields, and vary across the many different regions geographically, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service.
States with lower yields, according to the 2019 National Honey Report, had heavy rainfall, drought and a lack of nectar from wildflowers. You can check the USDA’s 2019 national honey report here.
The top three honey-producing states in the USA are California, North Dakota and South Dakota. Since 1995, the amount of honey produced per colony has dropped in 33 states including in these three states. As an example, North Dakota’s colonies produced an average of 108 pounds of honey in 1995 but the figure had dropped down to 65 pounds on average in 2019.
While many variables are involved, this significant drop in overall honey production per hive indicates honey bees are stressed much more than in the past.